My husband and I booked this cruise about a month before departure. We had been on the Lirica in 2006 and got an offer from MSC for a balcony cabin that just was too good to pass up. All our ticketing was e-tickets and we filled out our pre-boarding information on line. This process went smoothly.
We live in Palm City Florida and we take the Cruise Connection bus to the port. The pickup point is very convenient to our home and we like not having to drive. We are experienced cruisers - over 30 cruises and we started cruising in the 1980's when a big ship was 800 passengers. The Poesia accomodates 3013 passengers. That is about twice as many as the Lirica.
We arrived at the port right before noon, and we were on the ship and had found our room before 12:30pm. We had a category 10 superior balcony cabin on the starboard side of the ship about midships. It was the first balcony cabin we had ever booked - we usually go for an inside guarantee and see where we end up. The location was excellent. The stateroom had plenty of storage. Please know that your cruise card operates all the systems in the cabin. Once you have opened the door, there is a slot to put your card into and leave it so that the lights operate through the cabin - if you don't they will go on - but then go off - this is an energy saving feature. If you don't bring your own hairdryer, you will find one in the desk drawer in the cabin - it isn't in the bathroom. The shower is euro style and very small - the shower curtain tends to stick to you as you shower. There are dispensers for body wash and shampoo in the shower - there are no small bottles of body lotion at all. The towels are big and fluffy and there were washcloths without asking. Two terry robes were hanging on the bathroom door when we arrived and we requested more pillows which we received quickly. The service in the cabin was outstanding.
We had asked for and received late seating dining - we were assigned to the Il Palladio dining room - there are two main dining rooms along with two alternative restaurants at extra charge. We had requested a table for two and found out that the table we were assigned was a table for eight - we waited to speak to the maitre'de to make the change to a table for two. It was no problem.
We had lunch in the Villa Pompeiana Cafeteria - the selection was good and the food good - we then started finding our way around the ship. It is a beautiful ship - very new - and immaculate and once we got our bearings, it was easy to get around the ship. We tend to take the stairs if we can and when we did use the elevators, we had no trouble getting one fairly quickly.
The mandatory drill went well and we then went out on our balcony when the ship left Ft. Lauderdale. That was really nice and we enjoyed the balcony all during our cruise.
If you have cruised with MSC before and are a member of the MSC Club, you have to register your card with Registration - there are some benefits attached to the card as well as an invitation to a cocktail party given for repeaters, newlyweds, and those having a wedding anniversary. It is given the last formal night of the cruise.
There were many things we liked about the ship and this line. It is a quiet ship - only necessary announcements are made and you are responsible for reading your daily program to know what is going on on the ship. There is no piped in music on the pool deck - very relaxing that way. There were plenty of places to sit on the pool decks - lounge chairs as well as tables and chairs and we never had any trouble finding a place in the shade when we wanted one. The Entertainment Team is outstanding - they work very hard to make sure the passengers are involved and having fun. They are up on the pool deck during the day and in the Zebra Lounge in the evening. Lots of fun things to do. We saw very few children so I can't speak to the children's program. Every person that works on the ship that we encountered was smiling and working hard to be sure we had a good time. We met many nice passengers from all over the globe - it was an international crowd with many Italians, French and French Canadians as well as Canadians, Germans and Asians - I don't know the break down but I would venture that Americans were in the minority. We enjoy the diversity - it's fun meeting people from different countries. The Entertainment Team members were fluent in many languages and did their shows in all of them. The cruise was billed as a Comedy Cruise - and the comedians on board were funny and very entertaining. The theater was full for their shows. We didn't go to the other shows so I don't know how they were.
Our first evening out we had to make an unscheduled stop in Freeport Bahamas for a medical emergency. This took a couple of hours that night. Our first day was at sea and that evening was the first of two formal nights. Many people dressed, but not everyone. The cafeteria is not open for dinner for the formal nights - so there is no alternative but to go to the dining room even if you aren't dressing formally. We skipped the Captains speech and went to the cocktail party prior to our dinner time at 8:00.
Our first port of call was San Juan Puerto Rico - we arrived at the published time of 4:00. The Poesia keeps ships time so even though it was one hour later in San Juan, we were on the time of the ship - this can be confusing for first time cruisers. It was already getting dark when we arrived and getting off the ship was totally confused. It took us over 45 minutes of standing in line to get off the ship and by then it was really too dark to see anything. We walked a bit in old San Juan - we have been there many times - but many shops were already closed and it started to sprinkle - we went back to the ship and spent time on the balcony and then went to dinner and the show. It would be nice if the ship got into San Juan much earlier in the day. Dinner on the ship was a half hour later on this night. We departed at 11:00PM - the lights were lovely as we left.
Our next port of call was St. Maarten - our favourite island in the Caribbean - and we were looking forward to it. We arrived around 10:00am and we waited to get off the ship until the tours and first wave of passengers left. The dock area has been much improved over the years and many of the downtown shops have a little shop there so if you don't want to go into Phillipsburg, you can shop right at the dock. We always walk into town and love to shop in this town. We just took our time and ambled up and down the main street and side streets going in and out of shops and seeing friends we have made over the years in Phillipsburg. If you plan on going to the French side of the island, I would recommend that you do that first before shopping Phillipsburg as the traffic coming back from Marigot in the later afternoon can be heavy. On this cruise it wouldn't have been a problem since we didn't depart until 8:00 pm. The lights leaving St. Maarten were a beautiful sight.
Our next port of call was Tortola BVI - it is a boating mecca in the Caribbean - we have toured the island a number of times - so we waited to get off until after breakfast and walked over the a Marina we like to visit and hung out there for awhile. Roadtown really isn't a shopping town - some of the shops are cute and fun - but the drivers here drive like madmen in my opinion - you have to watch out for them. Taking an island tour or going to the Baths at Virgin Gorda are popular things to do when here - we have done them before and enjoyed the experience. We departed Roadtown at 3PM and would be at sea the next day - the second formal night - before arriving in Nassau Bahamas the last day of the cruise.
We attended the repeaters cocktail party and then went to dinner and the show. Not everyone dressed for dinner this night either. MSC has a three tiered dress code still - Formal - Informal (which actually means a coat and tie for men and dressy dress for women) and Casual - I saw more Casual and no one really observed Informal.
Some of the things that we didn't like were the fact that the Promonade on Deck 7 doesn't go all around the ship and in the early morning, you aren't allowed out there to walk. The pools open at 7:30am and close at 7:00 pm - as do the hot tubs. Pizza isn't served until 6:30 pm - would be nice if it were available around 4pm. There is limited room service 24 hours a day - but very limited menu.
Let me now address the food on the Poesia. We had read many reports and wanted to go with an open mind. We weren't expecting the quality of Celebrity or Princess - but what we got a lot of the time wasn't even edible. With the exception of the welcome lunch and Pizza we ate all our meals in the dining room. A noisy cafeteria isn't my idea of a relaxing meal. The breakfast menu was varied and everything we tried was very good. I am partial to poached eggs and they did every one of mine just right - but try to get just one - usually even though I ordered one, I got two - not something to complain about though. Everything my husband ordered was great - waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, corned beef hash - all excellent. Lunch was another story - I ordered something called Beef Scallopini ala Pizziola and it was totally inedible - the meat was tough, grisly and the sauce very bland. That day I did go to the cafeteria late and had some Talapia and it was very good. Dinner always had two choices of appetizer, one soup, two pasta dishes and four main course choices. The pasta was good to very good - but I make better - vegetables and potatoes tended to be inedible. Salads had more dressing than I care for however the soups were all very good. The bread was very good and the desserts good but not spectacular.
The last formal night or at lunch - we can't be sure which - something we ate didn't agree with my husband - he spent all night in the bathroom and the next day in our cabin - I had to get medication from the nurse for him. He was running a temperature and couldn't keep any food in his stomach. He was somewhat better the next day - but once we were home, I came down with the same symptoms - they only could have come from one place - the dining room on the ship. We had a light breakfast the day we got off the ship and were very glad to get home - as I write this, I am still sick - my husband is better.
That's about it - if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask - I will say that for us, this will probably be our last cruise on MSC - We will be looking for smaller more intimate ships and experiences in the future and will also continue to cruise with Celebrity, HAL and Princess. We love cruising and since we live in Florida it is so easy to do.
This review is written from our perspective - many things about a cruise are very subjective and our experiences won't be yours. This is a very good ship for many people and the line works very hard to make your experience a good one and for the most part I think they succeed. The pricing is excellent and children sail for free - so it is a good choice for families with children and for extended families as well.
Melinda Kazmer Bob Kazmer written 2-8-2010