I've been on about 50 cruises on all the major lines, and this was my first and last cruise with MSC. The itinerary was great and unique, so I had to try it, but I didn't realize the stepdown in quality compared to Royal and Princess and the other major brands.
The food was not good. We tried the sit down dinners twice, and they were very slow and every single item was terrible, so we just had to sit there and wait with bad food that we weren't going to eat. Meat cuts were thin and dry. Soups were thin and runny. Had to specially request butter every time for the one piece of bread you get. Even the bottled water had a weird taste to me.
So we decided to stick to the buffet, where we could try multiple things and not have to sit with a bad selection in front of us for 20 minutes like at the sit-down restaurant. Even with a buffet full of options, it was hard to find something decent, much less good. The cuts of meat were often full of fat and gristle. A few times I filled up a whole separate bowl with fat and gristle that I had cut off trying to find a bite or two of actual meat. Often the only options were lamb and veal, and maybe that's fine for most people, but I don't eat animal babies, so I didn't have any meat option those nights.
We had a suite, but it was the same size as many standard balcony rooms on other lines. We did get a nice bathtub though, which was very useful for our son. The room was dated, but the least ugly place on the ship. One of our bedside lamps was broken. There were items left by prior guests in two of the cabinets. There were no free outlets by the beds to charge our phones, so bring an extension cord.
We were not allowed to walk to the outside of the port to meet our private tour guide. And all the shuttle buses were reserved for MSC excursions. So we had to wait about an hour just to meet up with our guide who was waiting for us right outside the port. Of course, Egypt and the pyramids are amazing, but it is a long ride to and from the port.
We rented a car in Jeddah and drove ourselves. In order to get to the car rental place, we had to pay for one of the ripoff taxis in the port area. They all collude on the price and make it just about as expensive as taking the overpriced MSC shuttle bus to the nearby old town area. The port facilities were nice, and Jetta was a very interesting and much more Western city than I imagined.
We had reserved a rental car at this port, but we didn't have to. The rental car place is waiting with a flag to offer cars to people as they walk out of the ship. So it is a very easy port to arrange your own transport. They also have tour guides and taxis fighting for your business. We went to the ruins at Olympia and they were very interesting and enjoyable. We also had a great lunch in the small downtown near the ruins, so it was a very good day
Unfortunately in this desert city, almost everything opens at about 6:00 in the evening, and our ship left about 5:00. We rented our own car, but we had to meet at the rental office, which means we had to pay one of the ripoff taxis to get us there. They charged us 300 for the ride to the rental shop, and our taxi back using the meter was 30.
The Naama Bay area was a nice beach area. Like a low budget Miami. But more interesting. We also enjoyed just driving around and seeing a lot of abandoned resorts and malls. Half of the city seemed like an abandoned amusement park. Instead of tearing down old neighborhoods and resorts, they just leave them there abandoned, so that was very interesting to see.
The Sahaba mosque was also extremely cool looking. Great fake handbag store near there if you're into that type of thing.