We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and because we wanted a European experience on our ship. We flew into Paris and spent 4 nights there, then flew to Rome and took the train to Civitavecchia where we spent the night before the cruise. I definitely was a bit nervous of choosing MSC because some of the reviews are well ... less than glowing. I don't know what those folks experienced or expected because we had fantastic service and an absolutely wonderful time. I have only cruised with Royal Caribbean before and MSC was every bit as enjoyable in my book. We had a balcony stateroom and our steward was wonderful and responsive to our every need and desire. It was clean and bright and we love the balcony. Personally, we enjoyed the dining very much particularly in the main restaurant. Our waiter and his assistant were fantastic and eager to please. If something was not to my taste, they quickly brought me something else. I am sure that part of the enjoyment was our dinner companions who were personable and interesting conversationalists. We had the second seating and I loved the relaxed pace of the meal each night. The manager checked with us regularly to make sure we were enjoying our meal and emphasized that anything could be cooked differently or changed out if we were not completely satisfied. I was less than thrilled with the cafeteria/buffet but that was more due to the noise and hectic environment than to the food. I tried the burger one day and it was disappointing but, then again, I didn't go to Europe to eat burgers so I simply got something else. I preferred lunch in the main dining room with the option to choose from the buffet or to order from the menu and have table service. The service in all the bars was excellent and the staff was friendly. We preferred the Rendez-Vous because our waiter, Momin, was absolutely outstanding and made a real effort to know names and remember preferences. It became our before dinner meeting spot. The entertainment was also outstanding though I admit that I almost gave up on it after the first show - A Space Odyssey - which was mostly disappointing. I am a retired theater teacher so I admit to being somewhat picky when it comes to theatrical presentations. The costumes for all the shows were absolutely stunning and the rest of the performances were outstanding. I particularly enjoyed the Flamenco show and the mini Opera. We did not really plan on any excursions as we were pretty much intending to make our own way. We ended up purchasing one in Malta which was very disappointing. I had chosen it because I specifically wanted to visit the handicraft Village of Ta Qali and our guide didn't even know what it was. The description had specifically state that was included. In fairness though, our dinner companions went on multiple excursions and really enjoyed all of them. I will definitely sail with MSC again in the future.
The bed was very comfortable and roomy. The cabin was clean and well tended by the steward. We had a little loveseat which made it feel more like a suite and gave us somewhere to sit while drinking our morning coffee. The balcony was small but it definitely was adequate for 2 people and it was lovely to open the door and let the fresh air inside. We did not travel with children but the loveseat folded out into a bed which would be idea for a couple of small children traveling with mom and dad.
We spent the night in Civitavecchia before the cruise and I highly recommend it. We then added 3 nights in room on the back end of the cruise which I also highly recommend. There is too much to see in Rome for just one day.
Although Genoa was beautiful for the sail in, I wasn't impressed with the port. There wasn't much to see there in my opinion.
Wow! I loved Barcelona. We did our own thing. I had pre-booked tickets for La Sagridia Familia and we walked up La Rambla on the way there. We ended up walking 7 miles that day, but it was by choice. I wish we had stayed in port a few days as I would have liked much more time in Barcelona.
We just wandered Marseille, window shopped, drank wine in little cafes and enjoyed the overall ambience. We would have taken a shore excursion to Aix en Provence had it not been a Sunday. Aix pretty much closes down on Sundays.
Again, we enjoyed just wandering around on our own. We shopped, ate, drank wine, and admired the beautiful views. It is a gorgeous port.
We joined together with some others from the ship and took a taxi tour that was fantastic. We visited Olympia -old and new. There is really not much to see in the new part of Olympia but the old part and the ruins are amazing and the museum is fantastic. We enjoyed wine tasting at a local winery and finished out the day with a cocktail a beautiful beach spot.
Crete was another relaxing and wandering day for us.
there is some terrific shopping in Crete and it has by far the nicest shops of all the Greek ports.
We took the hop on/hop off bus to the Acropolis. Don't waste your time. The metro is right in the port and goes right to the Acropolis and will be much more convenient and cheaper. We also pre-ordered Acropolis tickets through a local company and that saved us having to line up to purchase tickets. It was a bit tricky finding our way to the pick up spot, but it was still a good timesaver. Don't miss the Acropolis! It's amazing.