This was our fifth cruise on MSC. We have been on Divina twice and Seaside twice. I had expected that MSC had learned their lessons with the Divina and the Seaside, but was terribly disappointed. We cruised on the Meraviglia because Portland and Boston stops were desirable, as was Peggy's Cove in Halifax. The ports were fine; it was the experience on the ship that was disappointing. MSC failed to transition from European cruises to what is expected on this side of the ocean. There was also a large number of people who must have been sick when they boarded because coughing and sneezing quickly became the norm on the ship. I think many people board with illnesses because they're too cheap to purchase travel insurance. At boarding, we were never asked if we were sick. Most other cruise lines always ask that question and hope that people will be honest. The ship is absolutely beautiful, as are the other MSC ships cruising in the US.
Dining: The Main Dining Room menu was broken down in two parts; there were items that changed each day and a standard menu that was basically the same during the entire cruise. The food that changed each day was not typical American fare and appeared unappetizing at best. The standard menu had NY strip steak, chicken, and salmon, so we usually ordered from that side of the menu. Shrimp cocktail the first few days was cool, not cold,and very small in size; I think they were left over from the previous weeks cruise. Also, presentation was terrible; a few shrimp dropped in a bowl on top of some lettuce and a little cocktail sauce. Definitely looked like mass production. The quality and temperature of the shrimp improved on about day 3 or 4 to where they were very good; presentation never changed. Our waiters were fantastic and did their best to make us feel welcome; absolutely no complaints there. The Buffet was horrible. The food was bland and selections were very limited and not tasty. We had a large contingent of Europeans and Japanese on board and it seemed that MSC catered to their tastes rather than to the Americans on board. Passengers actually touched the food on the Buffet with their hands rather than using serving utensils. Maybe it's a cultural thing. Also, people cutting lines was the norm rather than the exception. The specially restaurant menus were uninspiring so we didn't even try them. Hopefully, someone in Miami with Divina or Seaside will help them get their menu selections and presentation up to par.
Embarkation: This went fine and we boarded the ship without much difficulty. I just wish someone would have been screening for passengers who were obviously sick as they passed through embarkation in New York.
Entertainment: Divina and Seaside have the best entertainment at sea; no other ships come close, and unfortunately Meraviglia falls into the later group. The did not use the same production company as Divina and Meraviglia. Some of their shows were very poorly planned. The theater held about 1000 passengers at a time. One show was a ventriloquist, another was a magician doing card and ball tricks. I doubt anyone beyond the first ten rows in the center of the theater could even see the cards or the dummy's mouth move; really poor planning. Their singers had very good voices; there were three opera type singers and two other singers who had nice voices but limited range. Their dance troop appeared in just about every show so music was almost always up tempo and geared toward a younger audience. The had one show called "Virtual" that was strictly pop and geared toward an audience of 25 to 40 year olds; unfortunately, most of the audience appeared to be 60+. Divina and Seaside have a Frank Sinatra review and close with a Michael Jackson show on the final night; these shows are probably the most popular shows they have; Meraviglia had neither. But, hopefully they will adjust to the American market. They did have some good entertainment in various lounges on the ship. We intended to book a future cruise on Meraviglia when we boarded the ship, but decided against it as we experienced too many disappointing features as outlined in this review.
Onboard Shops: These were typical of most cruise ships; nothing spectacular.
Service: I thought the crew was very polite and attentive. The Meet and Greet was very nice. The ship's officers were very nice.
Shore Excursions: We visited Peggy's Cove in Halifax; definitely a must see. We also took the Lighthouse Tour in Portland; that was very nice. And in Bar Harbor, we did the Acadia National Park and Lobster Feast; the park was scenic, the Lobster Feast was fun, but the lobster was a bit over-cooked and a little tough, but it was a good time.
Disembarkation: We had no problem leaving the ship. Everything went smooth because we used Uber and met our ride around the corner from the cruise port. There was mass confusion where people were trying to catch regular metered taxis; the line was extremely long and there was no one assisting people in hailing cabs.
We were fortunate that we had a fantastic cabin steward; thank you John. He kept our cabin made up but never seemed to be in the way. If we needed him, he was never far away. Get service. The cabin was nice, but had it's deficiencies. Storage space was almost ni=on-existent; very few drawers for your clothes and closet isn't spacious. Cabinets above the bed or under sofa would help. I kept most of my clothes in my suitcase under the bed.