My wife and I boarded MSC Poesia in Venice on October 24th for a trans-Atlantic cruise of 18 days. We had booked a suite, cabin 15022, and at check-in we were ushered quickly to a special private check-in area with champagne and canapEs. We were told that if we needed anything, anything at all during the cruise to simply dial 99 and it will be taken care of. We were then escorted to the head of the security line and boarded the beautiful Poesia. Our luggage was tagged for us dockside and promptly dilevered to our cabin. At dinner the first evening we meet and fell in love with our waiter Murat and assistant waiter Onur, both from Turkey and very polite and eager to please. Learning their names and learning how to say thank you in their language made all of the difference in how they treated us. You get what you give. We were assigned a table for two at a window, table 536, in the Fontane dining room. We had the early seating at 6:15 pm. We had pre-purchased a drink package that included unlimited wine-beer-mineral water & soda at lunch and dinner. We told Murat that I enjoyed red and DW enjoyed white and from our first meal there were always 2 bottles of wine and a bottle of mineral water at our table when we arrived for dinner. Empty bottles were quickly replaced without having to ask. Any wine that was left at the end of our meal was tagged and presented again the next night. We saw some people take their wine bottles back to their room after dinner and I do not know if this is connected but they always complained about how hard it was for them to get wine service with their meal.
At dinner you were always given a choice: 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 soups, 2 pastas, 4 entrees (including vegetarian), 3 sides, a cheese plate and 4 deserts (including sugar free). If one was not happy with the daily choices one was always offered standard chicken, beef, pasta and vegetarian entrees. 85% of the dishes were simply outstanding and of those 10% were inspirational. The other 15% were "take it or leave it". One night we did dine in the specialty restaurant L'Oblisco. My filet was the best I had ever had and absolutely huge, at least 12 ounces of beef done to a turn and masterly seasoned. DW was disappointed with her entrEe, I forget what it was and the entire meal was a solid 7.5 out of 10. We could not get back to Murat and the Fontane dining room fast enough.
A pizza station was open every evening in the cafeteria but it was not sampled by us. Midnight buffets were daily events. If your are sailing on Poesia this winter I would ask to be re-seated in Murat's area if possible and tell him Curt and Amy Jo sent you. If you can't swing it for dinner, lunch is open seating and you can get him them.
Breakfast. You had 4 options. A very simple continental breakfast in your cabin; coffee, juice, yogurt, & rolls. You could eat in the main dining room, you could eat in the cafeteria, or you could visit the cafeteria and take your meal back to your cabin. The food and service were outstanding. A huge hit is the smoked salmon and it is served in very generous portions. As much coffee, tea, juice, water as you wanted. You were never left unattended and a very little patience was rewarded. Please, there are 2,500 asking for coffee at the same time. Yours will get there and it will be hot.
Lunch. The cafeteria or the main dining room are your options. Heartier fare in the dining room including brunch type offerings (eggs benedict). The buffet was very large and varied. A huge salad bar, a hamburger/hot dog station, at least 3 hot mains and that many rice/vegetable selections. Seafood was varied and plentiful and the cold dishes/salads were simply fabulous. The desert section was modest but I had the best gelatin in the world on Poesia. To call it Jello would simply not do it justice. There are a limited number of tables outside and they go very quickly. With the drink package you present your card to a server and they will bring you your drinks. The draft beer is excellent. If you wanted to you could drink for the entire 2 ½ hours that the cafeteria is open. Water, tea, coffee all free and unlimited. Soft serve ice cream was free and unlimited all afternoon.
Writing this all just now makes me wonder what in the world all of the complaints are about. Calling it "dog food" is simply ignorant. Saying one will lose weight or starve on Poesia is also extremely ignorant.
I would like to now address the "language" problem. This is a European cruise line catering to Europeans. Yes, the announcements are all in 5 languages and they have to be, but really there are very few of them with the main one being at 9:30 am. As for the wait staff; just imagine what a difficult task they are asked to perform 3 times every day. Whether a guest is from Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, France or America the waiters must go to great lengths to translate even simple requests. Please be patient with your waiter as he only wants to please you. The grace shown under fire by the wait staff on Poesia is simply stunning. And it's not just different languages but different dialects of the same language that they must interpret. Consider the Brit, who with a raised voice, as if that will make the poor waiter understand any better, demands a bowl of "Special Kai" at breakfast even though Special K is not listed as a cereal on offer. Or how about the man from Alabama who is furious because he can't get a "hard bowled egg", what is the waiter to do but struggle in a battle that he'll never win. Point to the menu item and you'll get it. Special requests are hard to do but the staff will do their best to make you happy.
When you hear that the staff and crew do not speak English, very well please bear in mind that the English might have been English "English", Australian "English", American "English" or Indian "English" with all four of them then being broken down into many different sub-dialects. Just imagine America alone producing Southern, Midwest, Canadian, Cajun and New England dialects plus New Jersey, New Orleans or Brooklyn. Patience works. Yelling does not.
Our cabins were spotless and you are provided with liquid soap in both the bath and on the bathroom sink. You are also provided shower gel. Wash clothes and towels are changed after each use, even if you shower multiple times a day. The service is quick and professional. An order of ice cubes was never more than 5 minutes away. When hosting sail away parties en suite, the staff was happy to bring extra glasses and ice. Room service was fast and correct but so very limited a selection that I will not mention it here. If you want a meal you must go to the dining room or cafeteria. Robes and slippers were provided in our cabin. You will have an Ethernet connection in your cabin so you may want to bring a cable. Suite guest also get a pillow menu and I would urge you to take advantage of this service. The spa was very nice but a bit too loud for our liking. The gym seems to be world class but they do require gym shoes to enter it.
Internet. I found the internet service to be surprisingly fast but you do have to pay attention to the time of day. If you walk past a lounge with a WiFi hotspot and 15 people are on line you can pretty much expect slower service. My Apple iphone worked great on board. Wireless is a bit cheaper with a 6 hour package for 85 Euros. In the internet cafe you paid 4 Euros for 10 minutes. Ouch! To check your on- board account day or night you simply insert your cruise card into any computer in the cafe and your account and all of your charges comes right up.
All in all this was a spectacular cruise and an outstanding value. We would book again with MSC in a heartbeat. We loved every aspect of the MSC "experience". They do what they do very well and I commend them for their attention to every detail.