We have limited cruising experience (most recently Celebrity and years ago NCL and Princess) so we were very open minded when we choose MSC. We loved the itinerary as it was a repositioning cruisep that took us many interesting ports. The price was also quite good. We read that the food was not all that wonderful (true, it was adequate to sometimes good, but not great), that you will automatically be charged a service fee at the end of your trip in lieu of tips (no problem, it forces some cheapskates to do the right thing..I can only hope that the workers got all the money and MSC didn't pocket some), and that everything is announced in five languages. We actually thought it would be nice to feel a little more international and not be surrounded by Americans. This last part though I would reconsider in the future.
We enjoyed dinner with three lovely Canadian couples so we were able to socialize some, but we found no other Americans on-board. In fact when we took some of the English excursions, we found ourselves as the only native English speakers. Most were from Russia and a few others were from European countries whose language was not Italian, French, Spanish and German (the other ones offered). Language was not an issue onboard as you could find most crew members understood some rudimentary English, it was more of a cultural difference. I was surprised by the rudeness of many of the cruisers. For example when lining up to disemark at a port, people would routinely shove, push and butt in line. When we sat in the theatre to wait on an MSC provided excursion, the group that literally yelled the loudest seemed to get the best service. The wait times were indeed long, and we were really frustrated with MSC as well, but the Italians always got to leave first since they were loudest (literally shouting), following with other languages until only the English tours seemed to be left as we were the least vocal in our complaints. I would not recommend any of the MSC tours (expensive and much time spent in a bus once they finally released you to go) plus MSC did not reimburse us for one of the tours that ended up being a disaster. They would only give a partial refund because the tour company only refunded them a certain amount (I believe MSC should have stepped up and paid the whole thing since they were the ones who selected the tour company).
The on-board entertainment and deck activities were only so-so since some venues just don't work if everyone doesn't speak the same language. On the plus side the rooms were very nice (bring your own conditioner, and robe - despite me being told they were provided, they were not) and the ship was beautiful with lots of selections for lounges etc. Our cabin steward and dining staff were great, I just wish MSC Management service was up to their level. Booking through MSC was miserable too, the website was not that great and there were very long wait times and delays in responses when calling or e-mailing.
This was in the B2-Balcony stateroom category and it was a good size with adequate storage. Unfortunately with this being the very first cabin in the front I did not realize our balcony railing was not standard. Only half of the balcony wall was see through as the front of the ship came around the side and half of the siding was solid metal. The balconies are nice, but I would certainly choose another room (any one further down) to get an unobstructed view. We also were below the bridge so we did not get as much sun since it projected out to the side somewhat.