I should point out that this was my first cruise although my wife has been on several, including another MSC cruise. We scheduled this cruise about a year in advance and purchased the cheapest cabin available. We figured we would be on excursions everyday and didn't plan to spend much time in the cabin so no need to get a fancy one.
We flew from the US to Barcelona two days before the cruise and did some touring.The morning of the cruise we went on a Freemasons and Knights Templar tour in Barcelona through Barcelona Occulta Tours which was excellent - lots of hidden history in that city.
Embarkation took a while and nobody really explained what was going on. It seemed a bit chaotic but eventually we got on board. Luckily the staff is multi-lingual and answered our questions.
We ate at the buffet for every meal on the ship and we thought it was pretty good. Some of the buffet sections stay mostly the same every day like pizza, bread, and cold cuts. Others like the rotisserie, ethnic and dessert sections had different items every day. My wife is a vegetarian and was able to find plenty of food.
We ordered the breakfast package which was delivered to our room every morning. The first day they brought enough food for 10 people and I had to ask them to only bring one plate of each item. The breakfast was quite delicious.
There were nightly shows in the theater which were free. We thought they were pretty good.
The ship was generally kept pretty clean. Our cabin ran out of hand soap the day before we got off the ship though, and I ended up getting sick the following evening. It was difficult to locate our steward when we needed him. We went on excursions every day they were available and could usually only locate him in the evening.
Room service staff, cleaning staff, and servers in the buffet were nice. I dined at the three specialty restaurants. I thought the Butcher's Block was by far the best, followed by Eataly, and the Japanese restaurant in last place. I was tempted to eat at the Butcher's Block a second time but didn't get around to it.
As mentioned in other reviews there was a bit of pushing and shoving at the buffet. Not everyone is raised to be polite and they won't hesitate to cut in front of you or push you out of the way. After getting over my initial shock, I was becoming a master of body positioning, wedging my way into lines and pushing people aside just like those brutes. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The ship seemed a bit crowded, especially in the evenings and on the formal nights. I wore my suit jacket twice and had some pants/shirts ironed for a nominal fee.
We had a private Montserrat/Barcelona tour with Barcelona Day Tours scheduled for 8:30am the morning we got off the ship, so we did the self disembarkation along with probably a hundred or so others. I was worried about getting off in time, but it was no problem.
Marseille and Avignon - We liked it and our guide Cecil was good. We paid to go onto the bridge which was nice. We saw Chateau D'If from the church.
Magnificent Milano - The city is cool, but annoying people trying to sell you stuff are a big problem. Our guide wasn't that great. She had a very halting speaking style where she would pause for a long time.
Rome - There was a marathon which caused our excursion to be canceled, so we did the Papal Angelus one and it was great. We saw St Peter's Basilica and the Pope. Then we saw the Pantheon, Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and Forum on foot. Some roads were closed for the marathon but our guide was excellent and circumvented them.
Segesta and Eurice - We took the bus into the mountains and it was very cold there so take warm clothes. We toured a church but it was foggy and couldn't really see much. Then we went to Segesta and saw some ruins that were pretty cool. We received a pretty good packed lunch on this tour. I was quite happy with it.
Valletta and Mdina - This was a pretty good tour but only 4 hours long. I wish they had a longer tour on Malta. We went to Mdina first and toured a church. The guide explained Maltese culture as we walked the streets. Then we went to Valletta and saw another church where the knights are buried and where there is a Caravaggio painting. I thought it was pretty cool.
I thought the cabin was a good size for what we paid and the bathroom was nice, although the airplane-like toilets flush loudly.
Our guide took showed us the symbols and architecture of the Freemasons before Freemasonry was banned under the dictator Franco. He also showed us the Templar entrance to the city and a church built by the Templars.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We saw the Palace of the Popes. Our guide Cecil was great.We paid to go onto the bridge which was nice.
We saw a cathedral in Marseilles and Chateau D'If from the cathedral. Also there was a US tank from the US invasion of Marseilles during WW2 to liberate it from the Germans.View All 74 Marseille Tour Reviews
There was a marathon which caused our excursion to be canceled, so we did the Papal Angelus one and it was great. We saw St Peter's Basilica and the Pope. Then we saw the Pantheon, Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and Forum on foot. Some roads were closed for the marathon but our guide was excellent and circumvented them.View All 131 St. Peter's Basilica Reviews
It was cold and raining in the mountains. We saw an interesting church. It was foggy but had it been clear there would have been a nice view. The drive to the top of mountain provided some nice views below the foggy summit.View All 4 Erice Walking Tour Reviews
We saw a pretty cool temple. It was unfinished because the island was invaded by the Carthaginians.
We saw another church where the knights are buried and where there is a Caravaggio painting. The guide told us some interesting stories about Caravaggio.View All 21 La Valletta Walking Tour Reviews
We toured a church. The guide explained Maltese culture as we walked the streets. We sampled some local prickly pear cactus liquor.View All 46 Mdina Walking Tour Reviews