We had never even heard of MSC until our friends said that they had a great price on a 10 day Caribbean cruise but we would have to decide within 24 hours. We did decide and signed up for the cruise, as did several of our other friends
We had done the online check-in procedure and so our registration at the terminal was quick and painless. Our luggage was handled by the off-site parking facility we had previously reserved. We were processed and allowed on the ship well in time for lunch aboard ship in the buffet/cafeteria.
The Poesia is an attractive ship with the usual assortment of public areas such as lounges, library, card room, and similar. There is also a Spa and a casino.
The main restaurants are on the 5th and 6th deck with comfortable seating in both. The cafeteria has a bountiful buffet located on the 13th floor next to the pool area making it convenient to grab a casual lunch and sit poolside in the sun. There is also a Japanese restaurant offering sushi for a charge as well as an Italian themed restaurant with a surcharge. We tried neither so have no comment. More discussion of meals later.
MSC is Italian owned and there is a decided European flavor on board ship. Announcements are all multi-lingual. Many of the guests were European during our cruise. The Poesia is large enough to be quite stable during sailing. The staff seemed to be predominantly from Indonesia. There were occasional language difficulties but nothing that couldn't be resolved. Guests are charged a daily service charge of $12 per person which is shared with waiters, room attendants, and similar to avoid the messy decisions about how much to put in an envelope for your waiter the last night of the cruise.
Our balcony cabin was spacious and comfortable with adequate storage. A nice feature was that a crew member could unlock the panels separating the balcony between our cabin and our friends so that we could conveniently visit with each other on our respective balconies.
There were two pools which surprised us with salt water rather than fresh and quite cool--this might be the European influence. There were four hot tubs which were pleasant but tended to get quite crowded. The deck area around the pool had loungers rather than chairs which we found uncomfortable for reading although there were many round tables and chairs suitable for reading or enjoying a cocktail. There are two soft serve ice cream machines which were kept quite busy. Deck 14 has a walking/running track for those who have had too many ice creams. Get your walk/run in early-- after 9:00 a.m. this area is also filled with sun loungers.
The spa is located on the 13th floor at the front of the ship. The "gym" is located within the spa and has a nice assortment of exercise machines, weights, etc.It's fun to be able to eat an ice cream cone, and then hop on an exercise bike. There is no charge for the use of the exercise equipment. There are three hot tubs within the spa. The spa itself offers a wide range of beauty and health services at what I (as a man) consider exorbitant prices. Not surprisingly, as we neared the end of the cruise, the spa began offering several discounted specials, two for one, etc.
We enjoyed an entertainment show each night with singers, dancers, and acrobats, all of whom performed very well and were quite enjoyable.
Many excursions are offered at each stop. We took some of the ship's excursions in some locations and at others simply reached an agreement with a local taxi driver once ashore. The ship's excursions were well organized and convenient but not inexpensive.
Our itinerary consisted of six ports of call and three and a half sea days. We were disappointed to have a very short time in St. Martin which seemed to offer some of the best shopping of the entire trip and yet no time to enjoy it. We were also unhappy that nobody told us that all of the shops on Martinique would be closed on Sunday, the day of our arrival. We wasted a cab ride into town only to find that everything was shut down on Sunday. Drats.
Well, that's some of the good and the bad. Let's talk about the ugly. Many (not all) of our meals were very disappointing. Meat in particular was often questionable. I gave up on beef after having a couple of thin steaks that were tough and full of gristle; literally inedible--strictly utility grade meat. I didn't know there was such a thing as "tough" leg of lamb. Well there is on the Poesia. My friends one night opted for scallops. They were ridiculously small, almost microscopic. I chose the "King prawns" one night. Now, I know the term "prawn" is more an advertising phrase that a food description but what I was served could not even be called "King shrimp." Any mediocre restaurant on land would serve a better shrimp dish than what I had. At one point, I considered trying the special (surcharged) Italian restaurant even with the $20 surcharge until I reviewed the menu and saw "King Prawns." That was the end of that. I have been on four other cruise lines and never had meals as bad as some that I had on the Poesia.
Now, to be fair, the buffet offered an excellent assortment of fruits, salads, desserts, breads, and a choice of entrees, that often beat the main dining rooms. In particular, the buffet offered a different international choice each day including a wonderful seafood paella which made me forget all of the horrible beef. We also discovered that smoked salmon was readily available in the main dining room for breakfast whereas it was not available on the buffet.
I have always felt that ship board dining was "special" both in quality and presentation. There was nothing special about Poesia dining.
Ultimately, we had a good time, saw some Caribbean islands that we had never been to before, and did it all at a fair price. Apart from some lousy meals, we had a great time.