I would like to start off by saying that this cruise was booked whilst on-board a previous MSC cruise in the year (Voyagers Club), therefore understandably chuffed with the already discounted trip/cabin/onboard credit ect.
The Meraviglia is huge, well planned out and therefore should provide any passenger with a pleasant experience, over the duration of the holiday not once did I see an unclean part of the ship nor did I have reason to complain about the facilities.
Travelling with my wife it is fair to say that we know what we want from a holiday and can easily compare the Meraviglia to past MSC holidays! DO NOT DO THIS ! this is where we learned very quickly that this trip is going to be different in many ways. If you are willing to sail away and embrace the new you will have an excellent time..... If you natter on to your newly found friends at dinner about your last cruise and think that that the waiters will have time for you then you will probably have a terrible time... > forget that honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean or that time that you took the kids away on a cruise where you found all the fun to be had at sea! It is very hard to repeat the same experiences, my thoughts below are reasons why I state this.......
1. Technology, your granny will hate it but get used to it as the MSC is top class with scrolling information boards at every lift point (much like scrolling on a mobile phone), scan your card or wristband at the terminal to get a map, book dinner of to simply check on tonight's shows.
In room TV info is just amazing with on demand movies, news, safety info and future cruising info
2. Cleanliness - Its clean and tidy, almost OCD level so don't mess up the ship or your room for that matter as your cabin man/woman will notice.
3. Entertainment - Excellent but you'll need deep wallets to get rid of the kids for an hr, 100 euros will get a arcade pass to the flight simulator and F1 car simulator and similar, the water park and high ropes are FREE though so just make sure you use this facility.
4. Adult entertainment - Cirque du soleil, I didn't know what this was at the time but just book and see the show before you board to avoid disappointment, most easily the best show that you will witness on water. SONAR was so so cool.
5. Dining, Expect busy waiters and long wait times at the bar the STAFF versus PASSENGERS ration is miss managed, the only way to have a nice little chat to staff would be the Anchor pub, and that'll be because they know that mainly English passengers go there. Strongbow will be part of your drinks package if you have it.
6. Meeting friends - Not likely, If you are really lucky to keep in touch with your allocated dinner guests and make a point of meeting up or suggesting paring up on land to do some shore excursions then maybe you will> my experiences when even trying to strike up a conversation with others are that the ship is so so big why bother as I wont see you again for the rest of the cruise, even at the voyagers exclusive party and meet the captain it was like being in the middle of a busy shopping mall surrounded by (yes like minded) strangers.
Summary - I had an excellent time with my wife and can say that the ship itself is amazing and takes all week to discover each and every facility, MSC have some nice touches, ill try not to spoil all of the quirky tricks that make you feel good about being on holiday but here are two (x2) must have experiences....
A. Get up before six (6am) and walk under the dome (dome show) to see the sky and hear the morning birdsong.
B. Be up on deck (poolside) when sailing away from ports to experience Andrea Bocelli's TIME TO SAY GOODBYE song (the younger cruisers will be more familiar with the film step brothers - either way its a nice touch)
.......If this is your first cruise I would consider starting with other smaller ships within MSC's fleet before you go big time. Whatever you decide or if you have already booked you will have a nice trip so make the most of it and put in a little effort with others- you'll be grateful when staff remember you for the right reasons and not just because you were complaining at reception- have fun guys.
If there are two of you this is adequate enough, you will not need to upgrade to the Yhacht club in my opinion. Wain until you make it to a gold or black card and im sure you'll upgrade at that point.