We were on MSC Fantasia in Oct 2019 for a 7-nights western Mediterranean cruise. This was our 5th cruise overall and 2nd on MSC.
MSC Fantasia, by today's standards, is not a big ship. But make no mistake, it's still about 130,000 tons. I believe she's about 10 years-old now, but incredibly maintained. You have to be deliberately looking for rust to spot rust. The only 2 rust spots I saw: lower balcony railing on the OUTSIDE of balcony glass. As I said, you have to be actively looking for them. Crews were always doing preventative maintenance when passengers weren't around (late nights & port days). They even re-tiled a hot tub in 2 days during our cruise. I have new found respect for MSC after this cruise, especially after two cruises on older ships on NCL and RCCL.
The only way you can tell it's an older ship is the design and decor of public spaces. Fantasia's decor seemed to be stuck in between the late 90's and early 00's, with a mesh up of traditional colors (gold, chocolate/brown, mahogany) and modern (glasses, mirrors & chrome). I'm glad MSC ditched the color scheme on its newer ships. As it stands, it could be off putting to some. Public spaces are pretty scarce if you are not booked in Yacht Club. Pool decks are disjointed and requires traversing different decks to go from bow to stern. Atrium is small for a 130,000-tons ship. Regal Princess has about the same displacement and a much larger atrium.
We were booked in a Yacht Club deluxe balcony (YC1). It's slightly larger than most balcony staterooms, but not as large as the same category room we had on MSC Seaside. That said, our stateroom still had a nicely sized bathroom and a full-size shower & tub. Closet space is enough for a 7-nights cruise. For longer cruises it may not be sufficient, especially without utilizing their laundry service. Balcony had 2 regular chair (not large enough for lounge chairs) and a small table. Mattresses were OK. Typical cruise beds with a trench in the middle. Minibar is included with Yacht Club staterooms, and refilled everyday without asking.
Talking about Yacht Club (YC), this is also our 2nd time in YC. Yes, both of our MSC cruises were in YC. While we had never been on a true luxury cruise, YC's service has always been several notches above mass-market and "premium" lines' (NCL, RCCL, Princess & Celebrity). Attendants were always around, but not intrusive. They would come by to take your orders then disappear, then they somehow would magically reappears when you need something. I'd say that both DW and I were spoiled by YC and can't imagine what cruising would be like without YC-level of service. Another perk of YC: exclusive spaces. As mentioned earlier, public spaces are pretty scarce on MSC Fantasia. If you are booked in Yacht Club, you have access to exclusive pool deck, lounge, and restaurant. Value for buck, YC right now is in a pretty sweet spot.
We only booked one excursion with MSC: a bus from Livorno to Florence. For $45pp I think it was worth the convenience and lower stress compared to finding our own way to Florence, and we had a wonderful time in Florence. At other ports we utilized MSC's port shuttles around $12pp to $14pp, depending on the port. The highlight of this cruise was its itinerary. It was round-trip out of Genoa, stopping at Marseille, Palma de Majorca, Ibiza, Naples, & Livorno. It was our first time in Europe and needless to say all ports were new to us. So much to see, so little time.
The only misstep on this cruise was the restaurant. It wasn't bad. It was inconsistent. We had great dinners on 4 out of 7 nights, and the other 3 it was just meh. On the formal night, we both ordered lobsters and DW's was overcooked. On the other hand, they had the most impeccable filet mignon available, on their always available menu! I regretted not having it more often.
In summary, an excellent first-time Mediterranean cruise. Book MSC for the total immersion experience (vast majority cruisers don't speak English as primary language) and its itinerary. MSC is becoming our favorite cruise line and we are looking to book more with them.