I am a seasoned cruiser and have cruised most of the mass market lines. I was attracted to MSC because of the value rates offered for single travelers. Yes, I did this one solo! Being alone I would be able to see all the negativity that you all are talking about, without worrying about someone else. Two weeks before the cruise I found a singles group of 33 members sailing together and I latched on with them. I would have company when I wanted especially for dinner as we had 3 tables reserved. I took two first time cruisers under my wing and had a BLAST! Your on vacation and you want to relax and avoid negativity and this was my approach. My two companions got a good adult traditional introduction to cruising.
Now, if your into rock climbing, ziplining, watersliding, surfing or whatever other BS that most people don't do on a ship; avoid the Poesia. I had Baseball Greats on my cruise for the week. True athletes that revealed their experiences and directed activities. MSC does this frequently to attract Americans and to me was worth the price of passage alone.
This is a large elegant ship where tastefully designed lounges flow seamlessly. Yes, live music every night in nearly all of them. Deck 14 aft has a ultra modern disco that goes til the wee hours. Deck 13 features a spralling double pool/multiple hot tubs area with sunning and shaded areas. Like all ships it's crowded during the day. Deck loungers have a unique shade feature attached.
Cabins: Smallish size compared to say Carnival. My inside cabin barely had enough storage for myself. If I had someone else with me, I would have worked it out. I wouldn't let it ruin my cruise! Baths were small but adaquate. I prefer bars of soap over dispensers, but I adapted. My cabin steward was a little skimpy on towels and no chocolates on the pillow from MSC. I know that will kill some of you.
Food: Now don't be an idiot and have a hamburger on an Italian cruise ship! For all meal times the deck 13 buffet had an abundance of food. As you would expect they excelled in pastas. The 4 cheese pizza(when heated)rivaled those in my hometown. Everyday another nationalities food was represented adding to the variety. The only thing I had to wait in line for on occasion was coffee. You will have full menu service in either the blue or red dining rooms, first or second seating. They are opened for breakfast and lunch too. Like every ship I've sailed selections were hit and miss. The wait staff encouraged multiple selections, so you won't go hungry. The surf and turf on the last Gala night dinner was just so so. The staff kind of forces you to take the featured deserts such as tiramasu or baked Alaska. Just fine for me!
Drinking ;-): MSC heavily promotes wine and offers attractive packages at discounts. If you sign up for a charge they will actually let you create your own blend. Cocktail and beer packages were available. Everyday drink specials at $6.25, even on LI Ice Teas one day.
Entertainment: A different show every night. Featuring operatic singers and dancers in colorful costumes. Every show featured some kind of amazing acrobat or gymnasts performing Cirque du Soleil type of stunts, some real intense for a moving boat. In some of the lounges each night they offered line dance lessons to Latin music, very popular with the gals. Dancing seemed to go on forever! I attended informative 45min. cultural lectures on pirates, Colombus, and whales and dolphins. Bingo and other typical cruise activities were offered. I missed the steel band by the pool areas. MSC seems to believe in a more tranquil atmosphere interdispersed with activities by their Animation staff. The usual spa ammenities and a fully equiped gym is offered. Gamblers go ahead and knock yourself out in the casino!
Ports: Antigua was what attracted me. I booked my own excursion prior to the cruise and ended up with my own private tour of the island concluding at Church Valley Bay beach with lunch. Man! I was king for the day! I had been to San Juan and Nassau a couple of times, so they were not high priority for me. Various deals are available to fit everyone's budget and can be negotiated on shore. Whatever floats your boat! I'm one that appreciates the cruise experience rather than the ports.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation: Was a breeze! I was on board in just 10mins. Disembarkation: A nightmare! Took over 4hrs. to get off the ship, due to foreigners screwing up their US Customs cards. No blame to MSC!
Summation: If your looking for a more subdued traditional relaxing cruise experience before all the glitz was added. MSC is for you! I got reasonably good service throughout the cruise. There are people who just look to criticize. I deal with whiners all the time in my profession. I am not one to treat people, many from impoverished nations as slaves. This is truly an adult experience and may not be best suited for kids. However, kids sail free on MSC! :)