This was our first cruise with MSC - I can't say I hated it but I am sorry to say that I wouldn't take another MSC cruise again. We didn't have any major issues but there were so many imperfections that it's just not worth it to me. I thought that most employees were really indifferent - it's like they did what they were supposed to do, sort of, but at the same time they don't care, don't smile and don't go out of their way to help passengers. Reception and Accounting counter staff was borderline rude, responding to your questions with an attitude - perhaps they need to be reminded that they were put there for customers not the other way around.
Food - breakfast was ok, but I found lunch buffet selection to be really repetitive and bland. Moreover you constantly have to scan the restaurant to find a spot (forget about a whole table) to sit down. When we cruised with Princess, waiters and hostesses tried to help you find a seat but on Poesia you are on your own. We tried coming to the dining room at different times but it was pretty much the same anyway. Dinner at Il Palladio restaurant was average, though anything Italian e.g. risottos, pastas, was really good. We had a very nice waiter from Italy, Antonio G., very helpful and friendly, I can't complain. We sat at a table with other English speakers which was very enjoyable. North American/Canadian guests get coupons for one large bottle of water a day, which we used at dinner. I also wish they would serve coffee with your evening meal but it wasn't available at the restaurant at all. I also had an unpleasant experience at the Zebra bar - we wanted to get a coffee, so we sat down and were waiting for a waiter to take an order. She seemed to be busy so I decided to come up to the bar myself to place an order, I don't mind doing this, but I was pretty much told off by the bartender to go back to my seat and wait for the waitress to come to me. Anyway, we sat there for another 5 minutes and left to get a coffee from the upstairs buffet.
Excursions - we booked tours in 3 out of 4 ports of call. You really don't need a tour in Genoa, the city center is easily accessible from the port and there are only few things that you need to see like San Lorenzo cathedral, Ferrari Square, Columbus house and if you want to visit the aquarium it is also right there. The evening before we arrived to Malaga we received a letter in our cabin saying that our tour was cancelled "due to lack of participants" so we were offered to book a different tour or get a refund so we got a city tour instead. Keep in mind that tours might be combined, for example our tour in Malaga was English/Turkish - there were two guides and all the info was given in two languages. Same in Lisbon - English/Italian. Before we left for our tour in Lisbon I noticed that we were given different bus number stickers that other English speakers - I ran back to the lady who was giving them out - sure thing, they've made a mistake and gave us stickers to the "German" bus. Good thing I noticed before we actually left! Combined languages thing didn't bother me personally but some people might find it inconvenient. Our tour in Casablanca was English only, and our guide Naima was simply amazing!
Cabin - we had a balcony cabin which was nice except for the pillows, they were horrible, flat and lumpy! There were two English channels - BBC News and BBC Entertainment. You could also rent a movie for 7 euro, which seemed reasonable. Our steward was nice, he cleaned twice a day but wasn't overly thorough. In fact when we first got into our cabin I kept founding long black hair everywhere, in drawers, in the shower, underneath the hair dryer... For some reason the employees were vacuuming the hall at 9:30-10pm every night, I personally find it a little late. Around the same time they would knock on the door to hand you the daily leaflet - I don't understand why does this require a separate visit instead of leaving it during the turndown service or just sliding it under the door like they normally do on other cruise lines.
Entertainment was quite nice, tenors, acrobats, contortionists - I really enjoyed the shows, except probably for the dancing numbers, they seemed a bit "homemade".
Aurea SPA - my husband had a couple of massages, they had great deals on while the ship was in ports. I used the solarium, which was also nice.
Embarkation/Disembarkation was fine - the only thing is that they tell you to vacate your cabin at 7am though our disembarkation time was not until 9:45...We basically ignored this ridiculous request and didn't leave until 8:30 - luckily no one knocked on the door so I assume it's not compulsory.
I know that some people say that MSC is a less expensive line and you get what you pay for - I've been on both cheap and expensive cruises but I've never experience such mediocre service. In fact MSC charges your cabin 14 euro a day service charge (7 euro per person) - that's more than we were charged on a Princess while staying in a suite. Something to think about!