This was our ninth cruise overall, our first time with MSC. We cruised previously with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, and Holland America. After reading the reviews, we embarked with low expectations.
Since we live in South Florida, getting to Fort Lauderdale was no big deal. We arrived at the Port Everglades around 11:00 AM. Embarkation was slow, but painless. MSC says they are in the process of rebuilding terminal 4, but we hear the MSC Divina is taking the Poesia's place and is sailing from Miami.
Once on board, we were greeted and provided with a small life jacket for our 16 month old daughter. We went our room which was very clean, and well maintained. Our room was a superior balcony room on deck 12. While in our room, we met our room steward, Juliette. While many aspects of this cruise did not live up to our expectations, Juliette was well above our expectations and continued to impress us throughout our vacation.
The ship itself was very well maintained and absolutely beautiful. Crew was observed throughout the ship relentlessly cleaning the brass, glass, floors etc.
Service - Service was VERY slow in the IL Palladio dining room. Water was only filled once a night and you would have to ask the waiter several times in order to get more water. It was faster for me to walk up to the buffet and get my own water. My daughter has a dairy allergen which we notified our waiter. Every night we reminded him of the allergen yet he continued to bring dishes with cheese. One night our waiter argued with my wife after we asked for pasta but instead received rice. The waiter insisted the rice was pasta but then admitted they did not have pasta.
My mother in law has mobility issues and needed a wheelchair to navigate the ship. With a baby and wheelchair, my wife was pushing her mother back to the room. Three crew members watched as my wife attempted to move the room steward clean supplies from the hallway that blocked their path. One crew member walked by and did not stop until my wife asked if he could help. His response "Am I supposed to help you?" The staff members for the most part were very unwelcoming. The only exception was the treatment provided to my daughter. All staff members went out of their way to help my little one in any way. I think the dining room staff was trying to do their best but it was evident they were understaffed and overworked. One word to describe the service on MSC is disorganized.
MDR -- Food was mediocre at best and service as stated earlier was horrible. Desserts were by the far the worst I've experienced on a cruise line. The pasta with meat sauce would have been better done by Chef Boyardee. The steak on the first night was the only good steak on the entire cruise. We showed up late one night for dinner as my daughter was having a tough day. The matre D approached us and said that if we are not there on time that we would not be served. My wife tried to explain the him that we did not want our toddler to disturb others and his response was " I don't need an excuse."
Room Service -- Did not use.
Buffet -- The selection was great but again most food was mediocre at best. The exception was the chicken wings, pizza, and hamburgers were really good.
Pools - The pools were nice and the hot tubs were very relaxing. The pool decks were busy on sea days but we always managed to find a place to settle down.
Entertainment - The entertainment range really never changed. The themes changed but the acts remained the same; Dancers, and singers in a different costumes. The acrobats were outstanding and talented. On this cruise, we found ourselves very bored. There was a lack of activities during the day and very few venues for entertainment. Sure there they hard their bars, but they had the same singers every night. One of the singers who played the guitar sang the same songs every night. Cobus was a good cruise director and should go places with MSC.
Announcements - The only announcements were the imperative ones and yes in many languages. The shows always started with an explanation from Cobus who speaks English and a translation from Anna Warner in multiple languages. It never bothered us but many people became annoyed with the multi-lingual announcements.
There was an older crowd but all were very respectful. Most passengers adhered to the dress code of the gala night.
Nassau -- Not a big fan but it was a relaxing day.
Bermuda - Self-tour. In Bermuda, we bought the ferry/bus passes, and they were the best way to get around. We hired a taxi driver in Hamilton who took us the aquarium for my daughter. The aquarium was beautiful as was the entire Island.
Embarkation: This was the slowest and worst I've seen in nine cruises. Again, MSC was very disorganized. We were supposed to be off the ship at 930 AM but did not get off the ship until 1100 AM.
Caution: The elevators did not give much time for ingress and egress. There were multiple passengers on board who received injuries from the doors closing on them. My daughter's hand was one of them when her hand got stuck in the door. Thankfully the extent of injury was minor but some passengers were not as lucky.
While the experience was not as bad as some of the reviews we read, it was clearly not up to the level of any of our pervious cruises. This was a destination cruise as we always wanted to see Bermuda. The cruise was adequate but I do not see us using MSC for our future cruises.