We've just got home from the maiden cruise after spending an extra night in Genoa.I should qualify my thoughts by saying we are not hugely experienced cruisers and have not sailed previously with MSC.
Boarding at Southampton was super quick and easy, even though we arrived three hours earlier than our allotted boarding time. Our cabin 14146 (Fantastica balcony) was ready and the cases arrived a short time later. We were warmly greeted by our cabin steward who did a good job through out the cruise. Some fellow passengers complained about the size of the cabins but overall we were satisfied with ours. The bed was very comfortable, the bathroom and wardrobes were small but adequate for our needs. I liked the MSC for me app both on the cabin TV and mobiles with many useful functions i.e. booking speciality dining, viewing account, itinerary and daily activities, chat feature and much more. Totally agree that Zoe was a waste of space and was tempted more than once to send her for a swim before discovering how to switch her off.
The ship itself is stunning with quality fittings and furniture everywhere. It is very 'blingy' with many mirrored surfaces and the trademark staircases but we loved it.
Having read mixed reviews regarding MSCs food we pre-booked the 2 +1 dining experience (Bistrot , Butchers Cut and Cirque du Soleil meal & show). I also took a punt at the 'Dining Experience 2' which was under the 'Other Services' tab on the MSC website and claimed to offer a meal at Eataly and Galaxy sushi for the princely sum of £8.
We ate breakfast and lunch a few times in the buffet and enjoyed it each time although there wasn't an awful lot of variation. Can't comment on the later menu there having always used speciality or MDR for dinner. The food & service in the MDR was good overall apart from the first night when things seemed a tad chaotic, but to be expected I suppose. Alan our waiter on table 379 was very pleasant and nothing was too much trouble. The portions weren't huge but we often ordered extra starters or desserts and sometimes shared an extra veggie main as a side.
As expected, guest services got in contact regarding my dining experience 2 package and regretfully informed that neither restaurant was on board. To compensate they offered a meal at either Hola Tapas or Kaito Sushi plus €20 onboard credit. I graciously accepted and chose Hola.
The meal there was very good with a variety of interesting flavours but not sure why we had to choose a gourmet burger as part of it? Not very Spanish imo.
The lobster salad and lamb shank at CDC were fine but somehow felt a bit underwhelmed by the show. Perhaps my expectations were too high or maybe my dislike of anything resembling French mime kicked in (sorry France).
At the Bistrot we both chose the onion soup (hot as molten lava but very tasty) and steaks with choice of one side and solitary lettuce leaf included. Wished I'd picked the mussels though when I saw them at the adjacent table.
Butchers Cut shaded the others with an excellent shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb and chocolate lava cake.
The premium drinks package was excellent but encouraged us to try just about every cocktail on the menu - not always on the same night though 😁
We thought the shows were a mixed bag. The singers and dancers were very good but shoot me before I agree to watch a ventriloquist perform in 5 languages again.
Nightlife was varied with something to suit everyone - pub, karaoke, party in galleria (my Ozzie Osborne outfit was a hit) or quieter spaces eg Sky Lounge where our favourite waitress Natalia from the Ukraine could be found - ever smiling and always made time for a friendly chat.
Overall our experience was very positive with many happy memories to take home. We will no doubt sail again with MSC perhaps on Grandiosa or Virtuosa.