We did three cruises with MSC: Our first, only and last. Our ticket said food and drinks included. Yes if you "dined" at the chaotic Bistro on deck 14, and kept to iced water and coffee out of a bucket. Our balcony cabin had no sea-view as the "glass" fence to the ocean was a 1 inch steel-plate. Ocean-view only if standing up. We dined at our assigned restaurant and table, and were presented with menu with no prices -and next day we could see we had been charged with 60 EUR for a mediocre dinner. The ship docks between 3 and 10 miles off the cities, except in Palermo, and they charge you 10-15 EUR for the shuttle-bus. Any decent hotel offers that for free, i.e. included in the price of the room.
We had the pleasure of many Italian families with children, and to say they are noisy is an understatement. In the pool-area talking was impossible, shouting was the only means of communication.
The ship itself was fine, meticulously clean and very stylish, and the navigators showed some remarkable ship-handling when entering and leaving ports, very impressive from an ex-pro. One night we had a force-9 gale directly on the side, and rolling was maximum 2 degrees. Ship is OK, the rest is not.
Very well kept by cabin attendant, which should be so as you are charged extra 10 EUR a day pr person for it. No sea-wiev unless you put your chair on the table.
Hop-on Hop-off. As these are.
Paid the 15 eur pr person to get into the city. Rented an electric car for 4 hours. Excursion staff on the ship were not able to fix this.
City tour. Awfull. Small bus, and they didn't even stop for a photo session. Well they did, but we were not alowed to leave the bus. Everybody got pictures of everybody else taking pictures from the bus.
Some cavesd, sailing on an underground river. Very interesting. City tour included - and you save the MSC shuttlebus at 12 eur pr person.
N o transfer available, tried to book at the ship 2 days before disembarkation, but unfortunately "That is too late". Took a cab and waited 8 hours for the plane.
The ship is good, well-kept, very clean and if you like shiny decor with thousands of small lamps, glass-lifts and thick carpets this is for you. The pool-areas are fine and we discovered a silent pool-area on deck 18, which I think was reserved for "Yacht-club" travellers. Nobody lifted an eyebrow when we entered, but we do look like "yacht-club" passengers :-) To say the other pool areas were noisy is a gross understatement, and the same was the case in the Bistro and the piano bar. We didn't get the expected cabin with ocean-view, but apart from that the cabin was OK. The public areas are nice-looking and generally pleasant, deep sofas, roomy chairs, but again our experience was enormous noise, making a conversation impossible. When I say "Piano bar", I expect a place for drinks with a pianist an maybe a singer(Usually female) providing nice music in a room with people you hear as a mumble. Not loud music and a din you may expect watching a football match. More Wimbledon style thanks.
Obviously many passengers use this cruise for showing off, and experiencing luxury, judged by the numbers of photos taken everywhere by the ship's professional photographers, of couples posing in their best outfits. We followed the dress codes, published every day in the ships news, but many did not. I have no problems with that, and we didn't bring the tuxedo and the formal big dress for my wife.
Generally the ship is good, food needs upgrading, and maybe we were unfortunate unknowingly having picked a cruise during the last week of Italian school holidays, but the Italian guests were unpleasant and very noisy. Cruises have the disadvantage, advantage for some, that you get a short impression of many places, arrive in the morning, take a bus-ride, leave in the afternoon. Repeat in next port. If you want to see things closer, this means of travel is not for You. We might do it again, but not in an Italian ship, preferably a ship at least half the size, and we will check for school-holidays before we book. Also check if you cabin is not placed where ships structure hinders what you expect.