I should warn you....this will be a very in-depth review as I found it difficult to get good info on MSC when we were planning our cruise. I am hoping this will answer questions for everyone...especially US people who may not have heard of MSC.
This was my 18th cruise, I am a 47 year old female, 1st time on MSC. Sailed Carnival, RCCL, Norweigen, Holland America and Disney. We did the 1/30/18 sailing for 11 nights. We had 22 people in our group, ages 4 to 74. Most everyone was 18-52. We picked this due to dates, 11 days, and the PRICE was super reasonable. We upgraded to the "Deluxe" drink package prior to embarkation. I'll discuss drinks later.
EMBARKATION - they told us 3pm as our time to get to the port. Sailing was 7pm. We arrrived by noon and were on the ship before pm. It was super easy, but you do set up your credit card on the ship, not at embarkation. You have 48 hours to set up your account.
ROOMS - we had an aft facing baloncy, everyone else had side balcony. We love the aft and highly recommend it. The rooms are similar to other ships, our balcony was a bit larger and we put up a hammock. The cabin stewart was awesome, but no animal towels if you look forward to that.
SERVICE - A lot of people complained (in previous reviews) that the service was aweful. We did not experience that AT ALL!! Sure, we had to wait at the pool bar for a drink, but I've never been a cruise where I didn't wait. The bars had PLENTY of bar tenders and they were husteling. There wasn't anywere on the ship where we felt service was sub-par.
FOOD - Yes, the pizza at the buffet is EXCELLENT! They do have a variety of food and I found everthing above average for a buffet. The buffet is also open 20 hours a day, you can get Pizza 24 hours, so that is great as well. We ate in the dining room every evening. Our wait staff was attentive and gave us great advice on what to eat based on past guest experience. They have a "fixed" menu everyday that includes apps, dinner, dessert. Then they have the "theme" menus daily, and food you can "buy" if you want. We ate the "theme" almost every night. There was only 1 night I did not care for my food so I simply got a different meal. There is PLENTY of variety to choose from. People have complained of cold food....that never happened either. Overall I give the food a 4 out of 5.
DRINKS - this was amazing!!!! We had the "Drinks on us" package, but upgraded to "Deluxe" prior to embarkation. We ordered anything we wanted...Grey Goose on the rocks, anything frozem, shaken, etc. With the deluxe we also had our mini bar in the room stocked with small bottles, beer, snacks. They were refilled daily. At dinner were allowed bottles of wine up to $50. We had 2 bottles a night!!! Well, well, well worth purchasing if you are a drinker. PLUS it was the least expensive of any cruise I have been on for all you can drink.
ENTERTAINMENT - I personally thought the shows were above average. They had Cirque de Soleil type shows 3 nights or incorporated into the show. Their impression shows were good, but yes, they sing with accent. The show staff is certainly hard working. I am NOT an opera person, but they have opera shows 2 nights (on 11 night cruise). I admit, I fell asleep...but people in our group LOVED it and appreciate Italian opera. They do not have comedians - which is most likely due to the SUPER HIGH amount of Eurpoeans on the ship. I would say 60% not American.....it is an Italian owned cruise line. There is no way a comedian would work due to the joke not being understood by more than 1/2 the passengers.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW - There are "themes" every night. We had 11 nights, so 3 nights were formal. There was an Italian night, White Night, 70's Disco Night, Red night, Fiesta night. They have deck parties every night and those are awesome. They have SOOO Many activites all day - no one was ever bored. They do dance lessons by the pool, Bingo, Master Chef at sea, pool games, basketball tournaents, ping pong tournaments. Most of our group of kids were 17 - 23 and they did activies ALL DAY LONG. We had 6pm seating, then went to the show at 9pm. The shows are somewhat short, so by 9:45 we went to the casino bar. They let the "kids" hang out with us and they would serve 18+ - which is how is should be in international waters. They allowed one person to buy for the group, which was nice. Everyone did not need to go to the bar at once and crowd it. There were plenty of places to hang our after dinner. At least 5 areas with different entertainment/nightly games/participation stuff if you wanted it, or you could just watch other people make fools of them selves. There was ALWAYS something to do. The night time disco was open unitl ??? We left at 4am several times and there were still people dancing.
OVERALL - After 18 cruises, this was my favorite. People complained about annoucements in 6 languages. Sure, it was a bit annoying, but it was fine. The food was very good, the service very good to excellent, the ship itself is very classy, the entertainment was very good, and there was never a lack of activities. We are already planning the cruise for next year on MSC. It was also my kids' (ages 18 and 21) favorite cruise. I highly recommend MSC!!
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