My wife and I decided to do our first ever cruise as we were celebrating a special birthday. We got a great deal through a tour operator for this seven night MSC cruise from Miami to Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios and Ocean Cay following a four night stay in Las Vegas. Because we booked the Fantastica Balcony package we were given the Premium Drinks package with it. Considering the prohibitive cost of buying this package, getting it as part of the deal was a great bonus for us - well done TourAmerica.ie!!!
Because this was our first cruise and my obsession with planning we did a lot of research in the 11 months between booking and embarking. MSC seems to get a mixed response from reviewers but I found this was the case with every major cruise line so don't let that put you off. There are some great cruisers on these boards and on the TripAdvisor forums who were very helpful and generous with information for us.
Stating with the ship layout and look - it is very impressive. The central atrium with it's bar and sparkly steps is a fine centrepiece. Plenty of guests had their photos taken on those steps (especially on the formal and dress up nights). There is a lot of the ship and so worth an exploratory walk or two on the first day to get your bearings. Theatre is an impressive size, casino is a decent size for a ship and there are dozens of bars and lounges. Decks 5-8 and 16-19 are where you will spend most of your no-cabin time as this is where the buffets, restaurants, bars, reception, theatre, shops etc. are. In between are the cabin decks. There are plenty of pools, and loungers, outside chairs for those who like to swim/sunbathe. This sin't for me but my wife wanted a morning in the sun and we didn't take long to find a free lounger for her (and this was on a sea day so everyone was on board). If you are bringing kids (and I think you are crazy to do so) there is plenty for them to do.
Really good size with comfortable bed. Balcony nice to sit out on and watch the sea. Bathroom small (obviously) but I didn't have an issue with the shower size and I am not small.