The boarding process was actually very smooth though we were not able to determine the earliest time we could board. Therefore, though we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the day before the cruise, we ended up killing time in Ft. Lauderdale the day of the cruise which was scheduled to depart at 7:00 p.m. We assumed we would not be able to board before 2:00. Upon arrival we discovered that we could have boarded as early as 11:00 a.m.
The cabin was as expected. We had received an "upgrade" to the 12th deck. The room included a balcony. The only disappointment with this room was the fact that considerable banging noises occurred from above all evening, late into the night, and very early in the morning. We discovered that this was likely due to the fact that the Foosball and ping pong tables were directly above our cabin and the crew moved tables and chairs around late at night and early in the morning on the deck above us--lesson learned on cabin location.
In general the food was surprisingly bland. At first the quality of the food was poor including poor cuts of meat and over cooked meat. This gradually improved through the cruise--either due to complaints or the desire to improve customer comments at the end of the cruise. We usually opted for the alternative menu items (steak, salmon, spaghetti, etc.) as a result of our disappointment with the daily menu items. Most of the items in the breakfast and lunch buffets were nicely presented but tasted bland or just plain bad. The desserts were not very good either.
The nightly shows in the theater were mediocre at best. Every night the same dancers performed as did one singer. The dancers were out of sync every night. It was as if they had never rehearsed together. The singer was very good but she was the only one singing the entire cruise. There were a few acrobat acts. Each was very short and again repeated about every other night. The shows in general were too short and lacked variety.
The ship is well-maintained as it should be since it is only a couple of years old. The cabin crew did an excellent job of keeping our cabin in shape. Our waiter was also very good though seemed to be indifferent towards us during breakfast on the disembarkation day. I've noticed this phenomenon at the end of most cruises. In this case, since the tips are automatically added to the final bill, the waiter was probably not concerned about us since it was too late for us to adjust the tips.
The fitness facility was poorly maintained. Several of the pieces of equipment were out of order from the beginning of the trip and were never repaired. Some of the remaining equipment did not work properly. Variety of resistance machines was minimal.
Bottom line--Though the price was extremely competitive, I would not recommend MSC cruises to anyone.
At Martha Brae we endured an extremely long wait for rafts. Our tour guide was able to use his influence to allow us to bypass a large tour group. However, due to an inoperative vehicle used to tow rafts back to the start of the trip, there was a period of time of around 45 minutes during which no rafts appeared. In the end we waited about 1 hour and 30 minutes for our rafts. The experience was worth the wait. The rafting was wonderful and the surroundings were beautiful.
One of my favorite parts of this port was the view that we had from the 15th deck of the Poesia which appeared to be higher than most any structure on the island itself.