MSC Poesia 7 days Eastern Med cruise in the middle of August 2008. The good first: Check in and out was fast and effective. Excellent ports of call.
IMO, food is below school cafeteria grade: card board posing as meat, seafood over cooked, all cream soups taste like potato, hard risotto. The only good part: after dinner gelato was decent but not as good as in Italy. Because the dining was so bad, we were not willing to risk it and spend money in their paid restaurants. Our early seating were grouped with 15 English speaking Canucks and Aussies, unanimous double thumbs down! On the return flight, the even plane's chicken parmesan tasted good...which means the ship's food was that bad!
Rudeness: 1 incident that stood out, during the captain's formal night, the four of us attempted to avoid the crowds by walking through a closed bar to the theater. A black suited staff shouted loudly "NO!!" and gestured us to turn around and leave. Although he may not be able to converse in English, but to yell at your customers is not acceptable.
Nightly Shows: Excellent tenor and soprano. Good dancing. Pathetic finger shadow show and mime. Something you have to grid your teeth for, fifteen minutes of skull numbing multi-lingual introduction to the show by the hostess. The hostess's German, Spanish and English sounds Italian.
Cheapness: Staff tries very hard to have you buy water instead of tap water which they dole out in 4oz cups. One consolation, our internet sourced travel agent provided us with 7 vouchers for bottled water. You can only have coffee or tea at certain times. Juice? If you like Tang. Ditto for bar mixed drinks that involved "juice".
Sewage smells: We found it very strong when the ship was leaving certain ports of call. Then we noticed a large brown sludge trailing from the ship when it was leaving those ports of call. I even have pictures of that. Perhaps the ship was dumping its sewage? Is that legal?
More rudeness: Some of the patrons would jostle and butt in, some would squeeze in and hold the elevator for a long time for their friends. Even a fight broke out over a deck chair during the at sea day. A group treated me as transparent by grouping around in front when I was trying to take a scenic photo. Was told that 70% of their clientele were locals who can cruise cheaply because their kids cruise free. Maybe that is why some of the staff were so surly, a lot of their clients were such louts!
Tips: Bring a water bottle and buy your bottled water from Venice. The Venetian water bus allows good coverage of Venice for a relatively low price. Buy the deluxe Istanbul excursion that includes lunch. The lunch is memorable and is the only bright spot of the 7 days arduous food. Don't cruise the Med during European school vacation period. Even though other cruise lines may be a bit more money, I still recommend the other cruise lines!