Based on the many review I read we were prepared for an adventure on the MSC Poesia for our 7 day cruise leaving on December 28th.
Embarkation: Simple, easy and quick. So many staff were available that we walked right up to the counter without waiting in line. Now, we did arrive at 11:30am for a 7pm sailing, but the staff were ready and waiting for us. At 12:15 the first passengers were allowed on board. A quiet, simple process. Such a pleasure as compared to the stampede on to a Carnival or Royal Caribbean ship.
Cabins: Cabins were available - no waiting to access them. We had a superior Aft balcony - facing the rear of the ship. The size of the cabin was marginally smaller than a Carnival cabin, or at least it appeared so as the interior designer choose to put the bed right after the washroom rather than allowing space for the couch and then the bed. Storage space was at least 25% less than any other ship. Of course empty suitcases fit under the bed, but there was only 1 row of shelves for clothing and a double closet for hanging clothes. We survived, but pack light.
In cabin TV: Pathetic. A cruise in N. America and there were only 2 English channels, one of which was CNN Europe. No CNN America, No CBS, ABC, NBC. The only American broadcaster was in Spanish.
Bathroom: Typical of any ship. No bar soap provided, only liquid soap. Shower was smaller than other ship. The curtain and your body become good friends fast. In reality not a major issue.
Vibration: As noted by others, aft cabins do get a good shaking at times. It was a trade off that I was willing to accept to have the aft view - but, be prepared for it.
Food: Great. It really was. This is the MSC Poesia, I am not sure what ship the other reviewers were on - but, they were not rating the food on this ship. I actually commented to one of the sous chefs that it is unfortunate that the reviews on the food are so bad - the actual food was really good. The steak was thin and over-cooked, but why order a steak in the ocean. The pasta, veal, lobster, soup were all good. Equal to or better than the local restaurants I visit at home, and definitely better than my own kitchen.
Buffet: Food was good, lots of variety. Frustrating that you had to walk around the entire ship to see what was "on the other side". One side of the ship's buffet had different food than the other side. We found ourselves circling like sharks to determine what we wanted. But, once we found it we went in for the kill and had a great meal. The desserts were not overly appealing at the buffet - as it turned out this was a good thing as I did not even have the desire to try them and did not gain weight from them.
Pool area: This was the only disappointing area - the pool area does not have music of any sort at any time. No DJ, no music from CD's, no live band. It is dead on the deck other than a full deck of sunbathers. The cruise director states that this is what N. Americans want and when in the other parts of the world the pool area is full of activity. Does not seem logical as every other major line in N. America has lots of activity at the pool. The staff do host some games at one pool for an hour a day, but still it is just so quiet.
Entertainment Staff: They call themselves the animation team. They are amazing. When you guests speak many languages you need to entertain them in ways that are not verbal - they do a great job of it. The shows were very entertaining, as was the pre-show fun from the animation team.
The kids program was fun (I have a 12 year old girl), but not as fully packed with daily activities as some of the other lines. There is no slide or waterpark, or rock wall, or skating rink, etc. so you need to know your kid. If they need constant activity to be entertained this is not the ship for them. But, if they enjoy relaxing on deck, having fun with other kids in the kids program and swimming they will have a great time. Kids under 12 being free is a great bonus.
Corbus and Maddy the assistant CD and the CD were very entertaining. Corbus, the assistant was seen everywhere, although Maddy was never seen other than at the main show.
Would I sail MSC again - in a minute. Will I believe all the negative reviews in the future - probably not.
The ship is extremely clean and the staff are friendly.
Staff: All friendly, but there is sometimes a language issue if you do not speak Italian. My only language is English and everyone spoke English, but when I spoke at length to any senior staff (guest relations, etc.) I felt that my message may not be getting across to them.