We've been on a couple NCL cruises before, but were looking at a certain itinerary (Northern Europe) and decided to give MSC a try. We were not disappointed. We stayed in London for a few nights before our cruise. We took the train from Waterloo station to Southampton, a very enjoyable train ride, then a quick cab to the port. We arrived around 11:30 am and only had to wait 20 minutes or so before the let us start boarding. Embarkment was the smoothest we've ever experience, we were literally from the waiting area to onboard the ship in 10 minutes. Very smooth. Our room wasn't ready of course but we found a spot to sit on the deck and were quickly served beverages! We had a couple "we're here!" drinks and then headed to the buffet for a bit of lunch. We were worried a bit about the food, after reading negative reviews, but quite frankly I am not sure what those people were expecting. The buffet offered a huge variety, some items, i agree, weren't as hot as you might hope, but keep in mind they are feeding thousands of people and they did a good job. After lunch our room was ready and again, we were impressed. We stayed on level 14 in a balcony cabin. Standard size room and nice little balcony. The weather wasn't always the warmest so we didn't use our balcony as much, but it was still very pleasant to look out.
For the rest of the cruise we had dinner in the main dining room. We had my choice dining which meant we could go at whatever time suited us. We usually went around the same time anyway, they sat us at a nice table for two, which we had for the whole cruise. For the most part the food was very good in the MDR, a couple items weren't what we expected (cuttlefish was rubbery), but other seafood was delicious as well as they always have chicken breast if there isn't something on the menu that appeals to you. The menu changed every night of our cruise.
The ports. 1) At LeHavre we shared a taxi with a lovely Irish couple we met through the cruise critic roll call, to Honfleur. It was better value than the ships bus, and so much more convenient. We walked off the ship found the taxi and 20 minutes later we were in beautiful Honfleur. The taxi came back after three hours and picked us up.
The location of our stateroom was excellent. One set of stairs down to the pool decks and buffet. A short elevator ride down to the tiger lounge or the casino.