Summary: Good vs. Bad
These are just things to be aware of - some of them aren‘t easily changeable, some are management issues.
The cabin (we were in 10212) is modern and - at first glance - spacious for this category. However, that spaciousness comes at a cost: there is very little room to put stuff, especially when the couch is converted to bunk beds. Essentially, you have a double sliding door closet with hangers and a few shelves. The only drawer is in the desk, and a good quarter of it is taken up by the hair dryer. Other ships we‘ve been on provided a whole series of drawers next to the desk and cubbyholes around the TV.
The bunk beds that are made out of the two-seater couch are fullsize single beds, the best I‘ve seen in a standard cabin. These come at a price, however - the unneeded upholstery from the couch goes under the bed, which leaves less space for your luggage. In fact, we weren‘t even able to fit two medium-size, upright suitcases under the bed without one of them sticking out about 10cm. Luckily, our kids had cabin-size suitcases with them, otherwise we would have been stumped at a place to put them.
The bathroom is the most modern I‘ve seen (then again, the ship is quite new) and quite spacious. The shower is great, with a glass door and large enough to not feel cramped. Two drawbacks: the air is - as is the case in every cruise ship I‘ve been on - sucked out of the cabin here (which makes sense), but apparently the opening is so small that the sucking noise is very loud. It is so loud that inside you can‘t hear that people are conversing in the cabin, much less what they are saying.
The other drawback is that there is no built-in nightlight, something we‘ve had in older ships. I can‘t think of any reason not to put a nightlight into a modern bathroom, but it fits with my general opinion of the ship‘s planning and construction.
Because we‘ve had ships before without a nightlight in the bathroom (mind you: older ones), I had brought one with me. Unfortunately, the same „reasoning“ used throughout the ship’s design has been applied to the receptacle in the bathroom as to many other aspects of the ship: when you turn the lights off in the bathroom, the power is turned off here, too. How annoying is that? So: no nightlight. Nor can you charge your shaver overnight. Oddly enough, the TV works even without a keycard in the central power switch...
There are two European (Schuko) outlets, a USB charging outlet and two US-style outlets at the desk - and the shaver outlet (110/220V) in the bathroom that turns off with the light switch. That‘s it.
The cabin door provided absolutely zero sound proofing towards the hallway, which is unfortunate when you have neighbors that find it adequate to have a conversation right in front of your door at nearly midnight. Actually, you get a lot of audio from everywhere around you - subjectively a lot more than on other (older!) ships. Put that on the „bad design“ list.
What also surprised me in a negative way is the poor air circulation. When you have a small cabin with four people sleeping in it, continuously getting fresh air into the cabin is absolutely imperative. In spite of the very loud suction noise in the bathroom, either the air fed into the cabin wasn‘t fresh or there simply wasn‘t enough of it, as the air quality in the morning was attrocious. This is an issue I‘ve had on no other cruise ship, not even ones as old as the Norwegian Jade! Poor ship design, once again.
Our flight was late so we didn't have a chance to visit the city this time round. I recall the inner, old part of the city to be quite spectacular.
The town itself isn't great, though it has an ocean-side promenade that you can spend time on. We decided to take the train into Rome (45 minutes trip on the fast train) and it was exceptional. No need to take a bus or other transport, the train is the way to go - just make sure you check whether there is a strike on...
Very nice to visit town. You can walk right into the city, though on the way back - since we were "at the other end", we took a cab ride back. Like anywhere, beware of pickpockets - a local indicated that we should carry our backpack on our stomach. In general, the people here are very friendly, though we were surprised at the high price of a coffee in a café that clearly wasn't on the tourist track.
La Valletta is incredible, though it is sad to see how things are falling apart. Houses just off the main shopping street stand empty and are in dire need of renovation. This is a typical city that - before the invention of container shipping in the 70's was a booming harbor city. Now, it is overrun by tourists. Still worth seeing!
Beware the long line for the elevator - we took the stairs, though it was a challenge. If you're not fit, then it is worthwile taking a cab to the top of the city.
Not much to say about Barcelona that hasn't already been said. What a great city!
Note that there are cheap city busses taking off from the same location - right outside the ship - as the MSC-organized ones.
I was surprised about this city. I'd heard horror stories about it, especially the most interesting part, the old harbor. This used to be an area that you wouldn't go even during the day, but apparently it has been cleaned up completely.
We ended up taking a cab there and back (it is too far to walk from the shipping harbor and the local bus service requires a walk from the dock of about 1.7km), which came us a little less expensive than the MSC-offered bus service.
Taxis are metered here, so no worries about being ripped off.
Definitely walk into the old part of town (up the hill) and see all the tiny side streets.
The only real shock was: graffiti everywhere!!! You have to concentrate to ignore it.