We took the Dec 1 to Dec 11 cruise to the Southern Caribbean on the MSC Poseia. We had never cruised before. My companion and I are in our early 50s. We had read reviews and understood that this line has a strong European flair. We like Europe and the culture as well as the food. So we were looking forward to this cruise. The following is our assessment of MSC Poesia ship, the service, the food and the excursions.
CLEAN SHIP: The staff were CONSTANTLY cleaning it. We used the stairs all the time because the tiny elevators took forever to arrive and when they did they were often full. If you were lucky to get in an elevator you would have to unload at each floor and reload if someone from the back wanted out because there was not enough room to move around within the elevator car. Back to the cleaning. There was someone in the stair well cleaning the brass rails all the time. I think they might have someone stationed someone in the stairwells to just go up and down cleaning all day long. We also observed the staff washing down the walkway walls. Our room was cleaned twice a day - once in the morning and again during turn down. It always looked nice and inviting. We also observed them cleaning the windows and balconies at least once during our cruise. With few exceptions, the decks were spotless. The dining room was clean and neat (though we did have the first seating) and the buffet area generally tidy given the heavy traffic.
MAINTENANCE: There was evidence that the general maintenance of the ship was not being kept. The theatre fiber optic lights were burnt out in about 25% of the area to be lit. Given this is an aesthetic thing, it didn't effect the shows. Our room door was difficult at best to open and we had to try 4 or 5 times and use a special "trick" to open the door with the key. We requested it be corrected but waited 2 days for this fix. Also at one point the toilet failed to flush. And last but not least the large screen on the deck of the pool got progressively degraded. I also noticed that the webcam I was watching prior to the cruise on my phone app went dead for a period of 3 weeks prior to the cruise. And also be sure to see my note on the broken cell service below!
ROOM: Our room was small but not uncomfortably so. The balcony was small but nice. The room was clean and nicely decorated. There were not enough outlets and we used the bathroom outlet to charge our second camera. However, we didn't know that the outlet goes dead when you turn off the bathroom light so we ended up not getting one of our cameras charged the first day. The bathroom was small but served us well (except for the time the toilet failed to flush). The worst part about the room was there was little space to hang out some hand washables and our bathing suits to dry. Also there were not nearly enough hangers or storage in the closet. Thankfully we brought extra as well as an over the door organizer.
FOOD: We tried the dining room for Breakfast and decided that the food was so bad we'd do better on the buffet. The "ham" they served us looked more like SPAM and it is what they used on their eggs benedict that had the eggs hard cooked and the English muffin not at all toasted. Yuck! We tried the buffet on the first night for dinner and again we ate there when our tour was late returning to the ship and we missed our seating. The food was better in the dining room but not great. We did the dining room more for the company than the food. Quite frankly the food was awful. One night's scallops and risotto looked like 7 brown peas on rice. You could barely see the scallops. The fillet mignon on surf and turf night was tough. The veggie and orzo soup ended up being veggie and barley. The night they did baked Alaska, they turned off all the lights and it was pitch black in the dining room. You couldn't see your food and you were forced to wait till they got done with their little show before you could move or continue to eat. The dining room menu seemed incohesive with a Greek starter, an Italian main dish and some other items tossed in. On some nights they failed to offer the standard options and we were forced to choose between only a couple options.
The buffet dinners were clearly warmed over items from the menu in the dining room the night before. The times we ate lunch at the buffet, they were ok. The salad bar was fresh and the fruit nice. The other selections were ok for lunches. Breakfast was ok on the buffet. The scrambled eggs were not like anything I've ever seen on any buffet before. They were orange in color and tasted odd. Overall breakfast was just ok - nothing to get excited about. The annoying thing was the lack of consistent coffee additives at various coffee stands. We use splenda and for some odd reason they didn't put these on the table and they only had it at certain coffee stations. Given the large area of the buffet with two sides, it was hard to remember from time to time where I located it last.
The late night (11pm) pizza was very good. Actually we decided this was the most tasty food on the ship. They were making it fresh and used fresh toppings. If it hadn't started so late, I'm sure we would have skipped the dinner and gone right for the pizza.
One last comment on the food. They had soft serve ice cream on the pool deck daily. Odd thing - for the first half of the cruise it was help yourself and on the latter half, they stationed staff at each machine to make the cone for you. The problem is they gave these folks no training to make cones and they made a mess of it. One of ours, the ice cream fell right off the top. Not sure why they decided it was worthwhile to put staff on each machine. There appeared to be no problems prior to this with the use of the machines.
THE SHOWS/ON BOARD ACTIVITES: Ship uses the same performers over and over again. When you see someone walk out on the ship, you knew right away what kind of entertainment you were about to see. The "dancers" lacked a decent choreographer. They more like posed to the music than dance. The lead singers were good and the acrobatic folks were interesting and were not featured enough.
The activities were lacking. There were a few things we were interested in but when there was something it seemed to conflict with something else we were doing. The demos at pool side were too noisy and you could not see the demo. Frankly there wasn't enough to keep us interested during the day - especially at sea.
The clubs/music entertainers in the evening were ok and offered a variety of sounds.
POOL: The two pools were nice. We finally figured out that we could enjoy the deck area if we didn't sit at the pool with the activities/demos. It was much quieter/relaxing at the other pool. The pools closed too early. It was impossible to enjoy the pool on the days in port because if you had an early dinner you had no time between the return of your tour, the dinner and then the closing of the pool.
FELLOW PASSENGERS: There is an old joke that it's cheaper to live on a cruise than to go to a retirement home. Well this ship was like being in a retirement/senior home. There were so many walkers and scooters that you were constantly hugging the walkway walls to keep from getting your toes pinched. The crowd probably averaged mid-70s to low 80s. We were young compared to most. There were about 10 families with young children on the ship. The rest were older. Frankly we felt young compared to most. Perhaps that's why the activities were not too adventuresome. Also, with the various languages there were announcements in 5 or 6 languages. This didn't bother us too much but it does get a bit trying when the announcers at the shows talked for extended periods of time introducing the upcoming show. Given the language challenge, they should keep their talking to a minimum. Also I'm sure they must have had entertainment in other languages but since our "menu" of activities was geared to English, we didn't get the option to attend other activities that we might have somewhat enjoyed even with a language barrier.
INTERNET/CELL SERVICE: After consulting my cell company I learned that they work with this ship in particular to provide on board cell service. I paid extra to have this service with my company. The first night I couldn't get my phone to work. It took me three different people(who called on the phone other staff) and about 1 hour of my time before I was told that the ship's cell equipment was broken and it would not be repaired till we returned to Port Everglade. Boy was I upset. Why did they not publish this little tidbit in the newsletter? It seems that others were also looking for cell reception on the ship and thinking it was their phone that was the issue.
In an effort to let family know that I was not reachable as planned by phone, I tried to use the Internet cafe. The first workstation I tried gave me an error with each of my mail serves not allowing me to send mail. I switched to another station and it worked fine. The first station use resulted in a $7 charge that I asked them to remove. It took me 48 hours and 2 visits to accounting and two explanations to the tech support to get the money refunded. Did they seriously think I was trying to cheat them out of the $7?
TICKETS/COUPONS: Where the heck are they? Why doesn't the ship give you your entire package purchased upon check in? You had to go to a special bar to pick up your soda coupons. We waited way more than 15 minutes before we got any attention. I have no idea how long the previous couple who arrived before us waited. At one point a server said "I have to deliver this drink and I'll be right back to help you." I finally went after a manager to complain before we got any attention. That was our "welcome to the ship" experience.
Excursion tickets were delivered to your room with no particular schedule. One showed up on the first night, two on the third night, etc. You had to constantly pull out your list of what you paid for, make sure you got it and that you got your tickets prior to the day in port. It was a real hassle keeping up with it all.
STAFF: Our room staff - a nice gal and guy were very good. We didn't get any folded towels though I heard rumor that some on the ship did. We did however, have friendly staff who kept our room extremely clean and attempted to provide what we asked for - including keeping me stocked with an extra towel each day and extra pillows.
The dining room server was very good and friendly too. He was prompt and remembered our name and what we wanted to drink. He did a good job.
Bar Staff didn't hound you when you didn't want to drink. They put out a coaster to indicate you'd already been asked so they didn't continue to pressure you.
With the exception of the specific incidents with accounting, front desk staff, technical staff, etc, the staff were good.
EXCURSIONS: Overall we enjoyed our excursions. And based on what we observed, without the excursions we'd have not gotten to see much of the cities we visited. However, some of the activities built in were kind of tourist trap like. We were captive to visit shops selected by the tours on several occasions at several ports. These high priced shops offered little variety and outrageous prices. In one case I tried to buy a silver charm and was told it was $50 by the time I left, it cost me $15. I think they thought "American with Money" and tried to scam me. I would expect this on the street but not in a place selected by the tour groups. There were certainly lots of options to choose from at most ports. On the stop in Panama it was over 1.5 hours after the morning meeting time before the ship took the various tours off. The sitting around without explanation of what was happening was terrible.
OVERALL SUMMARY: Nice clean Ship with several maintenance issues. Activities on ship poor but excursions good with some exception. Room and dining staff were great. This experience was overall not great. I said I'd consider another cruise on another line, he said - "No way, never ever again!" Having learned what MSC stands for "Mediterranean SHIPPING Company", that says it all. They ship boxes and just started shipping people. They have a lot to learn.