I think I'm going to stop reading reviews in that people seem to complain about the most unimportant things, such as the location of the pools & how crowded they are, it's a public pool so to speak where there are 1000s of people with access to it, activities will always be less when you are in port; the point is to get off the ship and enjoy the port. You have to remember, you are not home so your expectations should be a little more controlled. I'm not saying that you should settle for motel service, but you have to remember that the majority of the time, service is based on that cruise lines way of life as they know and not necessarily the "American" way or standards.
Review by lindapastorius
In response to review, travelgirl630 says ...
I'm with you on this. I am also frustrated when people downgrade a cruise because the seas were rough or that it rained the whole time.
It is an ITALIAN ship, so the level of English is not going to be the same as on an English/US ship......
Also if you want Dynamic/Freestyle/My Time Dining - book a ship that offers this and book for that....
Haven't been on MSC but have been keeping an eye on them. The most up and coming line of the top eleven majors. Berlitz rates them number three in combined service and food out of the big 11. The ships normally operate using 5 languages, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Because of this there are few announcements after embarkation-day and due to this multilingual emphasis there are few lecturers and shows mostly visual. However, they are currently constructing three ships for the North American market, english speaking and sailing out of Miami. The world's largest privately owned cruise line, owned by family; unlike most of the rest owned solely by profit motivated shareholders. Relatively new to the cruise business though, except not new to ocean transport as the Mediterranean Shipping Company is the second largest container shipping company in the world.
I like the looks of their cruise business model, perhaps I'm wrong, but it appears they are going in the opposite direction of most majors which are undergoing decimation of many of the finer aspects of cruising familiar to many of us from the days of yore, I for one hold a lot of the past practices dear. Perhaps MSC will be the only line where the MDR is a place one can look forward to each evening for a pleasant dining experience. It appears to me that the mega-liners, with their nickel and dime game, are here to stay. MSC may be the exception, it is my understanding that they haven't got into stuff like, art auctions, bingo, shopping talks for ports, wedding vow renewals and internet centers. Not saying all that is good but they do appear to be an outlier of sorts.
Sometimes it pays to heed some of these reviews. For instance, the OP here mentioned MSC is locked into the old traditional dining procedure, I had no idea they don't offer "anytime dining" and here I was getting interested in giving them a go.
For us, long ago we got away from traditional when the cruise lines started offering open seating. Reasons we don't like traditional are: 1. You are locked into eating at designated times only. The late is way too late for us anymore and the early often coincides with the ship's sail away on port days. One of my favorite likes when sailing is the sail away, so I don't want to be down in the dining room feeding my face when I could be on deck taking every thing in (Although what I can glean is MSC early seating is 6:30 PM which isn't all that bad if true). Also, there are many other events and things happening that conflict with traditional dining times at times, for us anyway, so it is awkward to have to keep letting the restaurant staff know you won't be there for dinner. 2. Some of our voyages have been months in length, it used to be hard to get a table for two in traditional seating, therefore you had to go with the luck of the draw in that you were seated with sometimes two or three other couples. If you didn't like them, tough, you were stuck with them for the length of the voyage.
Every line we cruise with offers anytime and Regent has did away with traditional completely as has most premium lines. Sometimes on the "roll calls" someone will post a "spread sheet" which lists information regarding fellow cruisers, often on there is dining preference, flexible (anytime) accounts for more than 75% everytime it seems.
Also, the OP doesn't seem to be enamored with the quality food in the MSC Divina's MDR either. This coincides with a review accomplished over on C.C. by one of their editors.----"Divina is a bit of a mixed bag; most food is fairly average. Highlights, in general, were the soups, which were flavorful and comforting. (A particular favorite was the delicate tomato basil.) Likewise, desserts were solid, with standouts including the cannoli, gelato (of course) and baked Alaska. In the main dining rooms, though, entrees for lunch and dinner were lackluster in execution, with most proteins coming in dry and overcooked and salads limp, overdressed and flavorless. Even some pasta courses came to the table "mushy." Service, too, is uneven: excellent and friendly in some spots (the gelato shop and the Sports Bar) and indifferent in others (several of the pool bars and main dining room)."
Maybe when their new North American ships are in service MSC will reconsider dining procedure.
That is a fair point to consider. My first cruise is going to be on NCL with their 'Freestyle Dining', which ok, given the port times should work (I am curious how late they serve in the MDR for dinner but that's for another thread).
However I also like the idea of set dining times - I'd be a late seating - and tablemates. The 'olde worlde' style cruising. But I agree it's not for everyone.