Tempting food, spotless facilities, and a touch of class
After reading some of the negative reviews posted here, our party of 8 retirees, all of them experienced cruisers, boarded the Poesia with our fingers crossed. But the elegant ship and its friendly crew soon allayed all our concerns.
Boarding in Fort Lauderdale took less than an hour, and we enjoyed being able to go directly to our cabin rather than mark time in a lobby. Our balcony cabin, though a bit smaller than the room we had on Carnival's Sensation last fall, was well-appointed and perfectly clean. We liked the sliding glass door leading to the balcony, which gave a better connection to the ocean than just a single door. Two small faults, which were exactly the same as on the Sensation: a room safe that was balky (you had to enter a code several times to open or lock it) and a TV screen that was rather dark when viewed from bed level. It would be a nice touch if the mini-bar included a complementary bottle of wine, or at least a few free sodas or bottles of water, but alas that was not the case. However, the ship did have various drink packages that amounted to a 4-for-3 or 3-for-2 deal, so the bar bill wasn't too exorbitant.
We didn't have a chance to sample all 15 lounges, but the several we visited were all well-staffed and the live music was not bad at all. Friendly crew members mingled freely with passengers and coaxed them onto the dance floor, something we didn't see on the Sensation.
Nightly shows all were excellent, with vivid costumes, breathtaking acrobatics and lively dance routines. The casino was about average. We didn't spend much time there because the slots seemed rather stingy. The pool deck, with 3 pools, became crowded by mid-afternoon but you could always find a deck chair somewhere.
Food was superb, both at the pool deck buffet and in the dining rooms. Salads are my thing, and I really enjoyed huge selection of greens, vegetables and meat and seafood mixtures. Our waiter Murat was a bit somber at the beginning but we loosened him up as the week progressed. Sometimes a piece of toast was served cold, but such lapses were rare.
Elevators were fast and plentiful, and signage was very convenient. We didn't mind the public announcements in 5 languages -- it added an exotic note -- and we enjoyed hearing about half the passengers converse in other languages. The crowd overall was diverse, a bit more sophisticated than an all-American group, but very friendly and courteous. Two people in our group signed up for three easy lessons in conversational Italian. Other nice touches -- an afternoon of opera selections, peaceful mornings on deck instead of canned music blaring, open-air movies and a Michael Jackson tribute show that teenagers on board enjoyed.
Disembarkation was a bit tedious -- about 2 hours of waiting -- but I think that was due to immigration red tape. All in all, a splendid experience and a great value. Brava, Poesia.