As a family we have cruised before with TUI, Royal Caribbean and Princess; this cruise was a trial mini cruise on MSC to see how they compared as we keep seeing some great deals being offered. We booked 3 cabins, all with drinks packages (3 adults, 2 teens).
We embarked at Palma, Mallorca after a night in a great hotel at Can Pastilla, the Hotel Helios (can highly recommend - has an amazing breakfast buffet). We had 3 inside cabins, 1 on deck 10 and 2 on deck 15. We arrived at 11am and all of our cabins were already available for us to leave any baggage we had. In the 5 days we were onboard I didn't see our cabin steward once, but this is a different type of cruise to any we have undertaken previously. With the exception of the sea day, at every port there was the possibility to embark or disembark so not only are the cabin stewards constantly occupied but the clientele onboard is always changing.
Overall, we thought that the cruise was good value for money; we bought 2 fun passes and the 2 restaurant deal for all of us before we left the UK. The fun passes cost a total of €120 but that then gave us €240 worth of credit. We did not need this much at all, the weather meant we couldn't use the zip lines, we did have one game of bowling but for 5 people for 1 hour that was only €45.
We had 3 internal cabinsThe beds were very comfortable, just not enough storage if we were doing a longer cruise. We did ask for an amenity tray . We did have problems with the toilets in all 3 cabins not flushing correctly, it was as if the vacuum was lost once in a port.
We love Barcelona, there's something for everyone. The teens love the shops, we love the market off Las Ramblas, and the food in there is wonderful. We used the MSC shuttle from the ship to the World Trades centre which at €9 was ok
I really wish cruise lines would find another port from with to visit Provence, Marseille is one of the most unwelcoming places going. We did not use the shuttle bus as it was extortionately priced, but we should really have checked the port schedule as the queues for the free shuttle were horrendous as there was 4 large ships in. We walked up onto the main road and managed to flag down a taxi, but then took the free shuttle back to the ship. We don't find the restauranteurs in Marseille to be welcoming at all so we don't bother eating in town anymore.
Genoa is great, the ships dock very close to town and the main town is only a short walk or taxi ride away. The restaurant owners are friendly and welcoming and the food is great. Marseille could learn a lot! As the weather was awful, we spent a good few hours at the aquarium before walking up into town and then back to the ship.