This is an honest and unbiased, unemotional account of our experience on the MSC Poesia. Most people we cruised with agreed that they preferred earlier cruise experiences.
I'll begin with the positives: This cruise ship is beautiful and immaculate. Everywhere you went, staff were cleaning it with such care that it literally shone. Many of the public areas were spectacular and care was taken in the design details. It was so pretty, that I took many pictures of the ship.
Though there were not a lot of activities which appealed to me, I really enjoyed the Italian Lessons. The hostess who gave the lessons was very engaging and we laughed while we learned. Taking the lessons made it easier to communicate with some of the Italian ship personnel. I even left with a certificate, although I learned just the basics.
The evening shows that we attended were very enjoyable, but for the long introductions in five languages. The quality of entertainment was high, with very good singers, dancers and gymnasts. The costumes, set design and lighting were all excellent.
The food was above average, with a very good selection. My teenager was kept well fed throughout the trip. The facilities, dining hours and service were something else though.
This was the most negative aspect of the whole trip. We wished that the dining hours in the buffet were longer, as the service at the seated meals was painfully slow. The assigned waitstaff did not understand English, and the Maitre D' never checked on us once. The buffet is very good, once you get around the poor design of space. Tip: Breakfast and Lunch are also served buffet-style in the Obelisque restaurant behind the Villa Pompeii, so we circumvented the long lines and had a nicer dining experience at the back.
My son did not enjoy the teen club as much as he did on the Norwegian ship. The hours were very limited and he had to wait until 10:30 PM for activities, which is awkward.
The room was serviceable, however we missed the towel animals and mints, and my husband had to fill the ice bucket himself all the time.
If you can get past the language barriers, most of the staff are pleasant and enjoyable to deal with.
Although there are negatives, the ship itself is fantastic, and one can't complain too much for the price. I will return if they make improvements.
For shopping, I recommend the straw market. There are bargains to be found, however be prepared for some aggressive sales people.
We decided to take a walking tour around Old San Juan. If you like history and culture, you will enjoy as we did walking down narrow, cobbled streets, and along the old fortress ramparts.
Oriental Beach is very beautiful, however be prepared for partial nudity and men in thong bikinis. However the water was perfect and we enjoyed our stay.
Shopping in Philipsburg is fun, as we were able to bargain for our purchases, and made some good finds.
The beaches were pristine and definintely worth a return visit. We took a tour accross the island and visited the most famous beach, which also included an old distillery.
Note: shopping is not cheap here so I'd skip the shopping for your next port of call.