The original primary reason for my cruise was to be able to scuba dive in Grand Caymen. I tried to register in advance, but their website was not allowing it (others have confirmed that is was not working right). So, I went promptly to the cruise desk to register and was informed after the long line wait that the excursion was already booked full. Upon polite objection and pleading they put me on a waiting list. I was pleased and do compliment them that I did get to go on the dive.
However, the dive company was not the best and went to not the best diving places and had no snacks between dives (a basic nicety) and was more concerned with the 3 local pro divers on the boat than with those from the cruise ship. I don't know why the ship closed the dive since the boat was not booked full. There was room for more divers to go.
My compliments to the appetizer chef and the chef in charge of the marinara sauce for all foods, including the pizza up in the pizza area. Best pizza of any cruise ship. The pumpkin soup was excellent. The entreees were mediocre and the deserts were boring. Several times it was necessary to order the 'always on menu' staples ... especially the night when if you wanted to eat you better like eggplant. Luckily, prior cruisers had warned us and many commented on the reputation the ship had for poor food.
In the breakfast area they ran out of raisen bran cereal by day 3. However, this is also common on ships. I don't know why they don't seem to buy enough.
I tried to go to the dance lessons a couple of times. They were held in places without enough room for those who wanted lessons, so I didn't stay for them.
I tried to go to karaoke the first night. I think the guy running it should have been fired on the spot, and told the ship so. Upon arrival I asked if my own discs could be used and was told they could not because the equipment was not set up to show the words for them. S'ok, I was willing to sing off of their list. The guy wouldn't let me review the list (I could see the frong page of songs by artest) but asked me to tell him a song. I did, he said they had it and off he went. He came back during the first singer to say they didn't have it and to pick another but he wouldn't let me see the list. I suggested another and he said they didn't have that, but still wouldn't let me look at what they did have. I has seen a song I knew on the front of the list and said that one. He said ok. I'm not very happy, but I'll see if I can see the list later.
The second singers were 2 guys who apparently had given them their own discs to sing without the words. However, the wrong songs kept coming up. Apparently they didn't really know which number it was on the disc. After nearly 10 minutes they finally gave up and the guys sat down to pick a song from the list and the next person was called up.
This singer was a german lady who had an ok voice. Not good or bad, not painful. However her song, in german, was the same words over and over for a long long time. Some of the friends of the 2 guys got obnoxious about her. Bad audience. However, this is when things got very bad. The crew member running the show started making gestures and making fun of the singer behind her back. Ridiculing her. I was shocked. The audience joined in. The frind of the 2 guys walked over and took the mic from the german lady who rushed from the room in embarrassment. I had had enough and I left and did not do karaoke on the ship. I normally do karaoke 3 times a week and have hosted before. I have never seen a crew member behave in such an appalling manner before.
As to the $12 tip. Our table person was fine. He realized I brought my own tea by hight 3 and my teapot was ready for me on arrival. I would have tipped him a personal bonus if I had been allowed to do my own tipping.
The buffet staff had a tendency to stand in the aisles where people were trying to move to tables and chat with each other. Very obstructive. The set up for the buffet was not well planned as people were stuck having to pass through the burgers/dogs/fries line in order to get to the menu food for dinner and cutting in line at that point was grounds for many people from every country being upset that they had to start at the beginning of the line and other people didn't.
Worst was the stateroom staff. I have never had such poor service. The Poesia has a light that turns off when you put your room key in the slot that allows your room lights to turn on. There is no way to say 'do not disturb' other than the card in the slot. This is a poor plan for those who have the person leave who takes the card from the slot while the other is sleeping or who don't want someone in their room while they are gone this time.
However, there was an occassion when my daughter was sleeping and she did have the card in the slot so they should not have disturbed her. They knocked, she called out 'sleeping' and they knocked again. She finally got up and went to the door and they were quite upset that she would not let them clean the room at this time and made it impossible for her to take her nap.
There was a time when I took a tea glass to my room and I noticed that the next time they came they didn't take it away .. nor the next .. nor the time after that. I finally put it outside. I started testing, they did not clean up any glasses or food trays. Only if you set them outside were they taken.
One thing I like very much on cruises is having a towel folded into shapes like a doggie or swan or monkey. I was looking forward to my daughter, a first time cruiser, experiencing this. She'll have to take another cruise as our steward never did it... not even once.
So, did I want to lower the tip from $12/person/day? Yes. It was too high for the service received. I was fine with the $10/p/d charged by NCL and Princess on my two prior cruises in 20009 and didn't have them changed. The Poesia service was worse than theirs and should not have been as high much less higher.
Could I lower the tip? No. Not that the account was closed, but the accounting people were only available while I was on a shore excusion. When I tried to ask about it the crew staff person was very rude to which my reaction was to tell her that her attitude was why I would never cruise on MSC again and I walked away. She chased after me objecting to my objection and claiming that I just didn't understand that she uses her hands when she speaks. I replied to her that I had no problem with her hands but with her tone of voice and that she was being inappropriate to chase after me and accost me in public as I waited for the elevator. Everyone on the elevator assured me that they had had similar problems with staff.
As to the quality of the shows. I like their room for the shows better than Princess had because everyone could go in two shows on one night. I liked the juggler, the guys who did the acrobatics with sheets, the contortionists, the magician. The crew staff had some cute routines. My daughter and I are both trained dancers. We have seen higher quality dancing in high school musical chorus lines. I don't think it is so much the dancers themselves. I think they were totally bored with the dance routines which resulted in lack lustr performances with no position taken to the extension it deserved and nothing danced with precision or sharpness or everyone in synch. The dancers on NCL and Princess were better.
So, if MSC is going to unusual ports you want to go to, have fun on the ship. Just do not expect the quality of service you get on other lines and be sure to lower the unearned tip early in the cruise while you still can.
One other comment about the seas between Grand Caymen and Cartegena. The ship is among the least stable I have been on. NCL Pride of America in 70 ft waves in Hawaii had more stability, less creaking and shifting and banging than Poesia had in mild seas with mild weather. It was ok so long as it was close to shore, just not in the open seas. Most of the people didn't make it to dinner that night ... even the ones with wristbands and patches.
As to the embarcation, I appreciated having the chairs to sit in and being taken row by row instead of standing in line the whole time. I found the embarcation procedures amongst the easiest I've experienced on any line. the debarcation was well managed and quick and easy too.
If you have your own pc you can buy 250 minutes of Internet for $80. Else, using theirs is $5 each time plus 50 cents a minute. Service is worst on any ship. They do not use the same ISP that all others use. Instead of the user id being name and room number it was some random number you couldn't change and was hard to recall. On top of the bad service on the ship, the Internet cafes in at least 2 ports didn't have working Internet. Only Grand Caymen and Cozumel had shore service close enough to use.