My recent voyage on the MSC Poesia was my very first cruise, and I researched it heavily before we sailed via reviews from prior passengers. To anybody who is familiar with reviews of this ship, you will know that many of them were quite negative. This gave us some real concern, and we got out of the taxi at the port with a healthy mix of excitement and dread. Well let me tell you folks... the negative reviews are 100% GARBAGE, and I will tell you why.
This was my first cruise, but I have traveled all over the world in the past 15 years so I am worldly and have enjoyed the finer things in life. My fiancee has been on a Royal Caribbean cruise before and she was able to compare and contrast from that standpoint. We both thought the ship was beautiful and immaculately clean. We had read reviews that complained about the food so we were eager to see for ourselves what that situation was. We thought the food was GREAT. The Italian dishes in particular were wonderful (makes sense with an Italian chef). The buffet was great, with the exception that we both longed for hot toast and waffles at breakfast -- these things were usually cold. There were lines to get coffee, and the staff was smart enough to have a crewmember there taking your cup and pouring it for you to speed things up.
The pool was always packed so we learned on day one that if you didn't grab a chair and "claim it" with a towel AND a personal belonging, you'd be out of luck all day. Some folks would leave a towel and never show up so that was frustrating. We saw the main towel distributor guy (who we called the towel nazi for his harsh demeanor) scooping up towels from chairs that were reserved by folks who didn't show, and this was a good thing.
The crew was a mix of quasi-friendly and not very friendly, but ALWAYS prompt and attentive. Everybody was from somwhere else (Ukraine, Indonisia, India, etc.) so the language barrier is what we assumed was the reason why they weren't as outgoing as a Disney park employee. Did we care? NO. We didn't cruise to make best friends with the crew. We actually DID make friends with some of the Ukrainian bartenders and servers so who knows?
The entertainment was cheesy by my standards, especially the pool side stuff. It always felt like I was on an Italian game show - there was a guy in a wig who kept screaming and pretending to be a silly girl while his "straight man" would crack jokes at his (and the passengers) expense. The skits were too long and pretty annoying. The shows in the theatre were better, but for me it was a diversion, not a destination. I give them credit for trying to appeal to so many different ages and cultures.
After observing our fellow passengers for a week we figured out who was writing the bad reviews: people with no class. These are folks who don't have much money or worldly experience who have VERY unrealistic expectations about having their asses kissed. One couple from New Jersey were yelling at a crewmember about a problem in the cyber cafe and threatening him. One couple ignored all the announcements and the daily buletins we got every moring that said BRING YOUR ID WHEN YOU LEAVE THE SHIP and berated the crew for "not telling them" about this and their "great inconvenience" trying to get back on board without ID. We saw a woman demand to see an ships officer over the lack of ice in her drink. Crazy, classless stuff like this was always from the same type of people and these folks are NOT qualified to leave a review that you can believe. I however am, and I say DO NOT MISS cruising with MSC. As the truth gets about about this line, those low prices will not last. Happy sailing!