Our family of 4 – husband and wife in our 50s and DD in her 20s and DS late teens cruised on MSC Poesia from Copenhagen. We had been on one cruise before 3 years ago---Princess to Alaska.
Embarkation from Copenhagen was quick and smooth. Kiel was the main embarkation point for this cruise, so that may have helped the speed of getting on board and into our cabin. Our luggage was delivered promptly.
Our Superior Balcony cabin was very nice though not quite as big as the Mini-Suite on Princess (but also MUCH cheaper!). We had a pull out bunk and a single sofa bed. As is generally true, when the beds are out, it is difficult to get to the balcony. There was quite a bit of storage space, but 4 people in these rooms generally does get a bit crowded, but it was fine. We did have an issue with our mini-fridge (it did not come on), which took a couple of days to get resolved….but these things happen.
The T.V. had quite limited stations in English, but this was also true pre and post cruise in Copenhagen. We were in Europe….after all. The cost of Internet use was annoyingly expensive (as was also true on Princess). This was free in both Copenhagen hotels.
The Poesia is a beautiful ship and there was always crew cleaning her. We did meet our cabin steward when we were dealing with the mini-fridge issue, but otherwise never ran into him. I like the system they have of putting your card into the slot to keep your lights on. Somehow this way they know you are in your room, so they don’t bug you.
There were LOTS of kids on this ship due to the kids sail free offer. I am not annoyed by kids, but the ones that kept RUNNING in the hall and RUNNING on the pool deck above our cabin early every morning got a bit old. My own DD and DS kept saying “Where are their parents?” This, of course had nothing to do with MSC, but the grouping of passengers.
The food in the Buffet was adequate to good. I keep reading the desserts weren’t good…..hm…wish I agreed with them as I had a hard time deciding which to choose! The dining room food was also good. I would say it was not as good as Princess, but then, we didn’t pay nearly as high a price. My DH would recommend that unless you are an avid eater of Prawns, you may want to avoid them. These had an extremely fishy aroma and my DH finally sent them back and ordered a different entrée. This was done with no issues whatsoever. (Maybe it is a European thing…..we saw several others with the shells from the prawns on their table, so they apparently thought they were good.) There was certainly no lack of food on the ship. In addition to the 3 meals, there was tea time in the Buffet from 4-5 each day---again with the yummy desserts. They also had a midnight buffet a couple of nights. This was one area where they did better than Princess as on that ship these seemed to be leftovers, but MSC had lots of food that was different from what we had seen at other meals. The nights they didn’t have a buffet, they had some kind of food, like sandwiches or pizza in the bars. You DO have to read your Daily Program to get this info…and yes, ours was in English, though occasionally the translation was a bit humorous.
One gripe is that the Buffet area is too small. We found it important to get there early to get seats. Maybe part of this was all the extra children on the ship? It is also laid out wrong and should be in stations instead of the cafeteria line style. We did find the group of passengers on the ship quite rude in terms of pushing their way into line, but my family just joked about it and found ways to ‘hold our spot’. The other thing I found quite odd was the lack of requirements to use the hand sanitizers. On Princess, they had staff standing watching to be sure EVERYONE used them and they put it on your hands when you walked into the dining room. Maybe this was true 3 years ago and is no longer done? It would seem like this would have gotten even more stringent with all the flu that has gone around. There were very few passengers from the U.S. on the ship. My best guess would be less than 50. That doesn’t mean no one spoke English. We had no problems with being understood and it seemed most people spoke at least some English even if that wasn’t their first language. One thing to note is to pay attention if you are playing bingo or doing some of the activities….when they ask at the beginning in English if anyone speaks English, wave your hand. Since they have 5 languages on the ship, if no one is at an activity, they might skip that language.
The Entertainment Team was fun to watch and once you attend an event or two, they make sure to come and chat with you. I also had a waiter in one of the bars shout my name loudly each time he was working and I walked through his bar. My DS actually had the problem of the Entertainment Team almost being too aggressive with coming to engage him and get him to participate. He started hiding out from them in our cabin. The bars were very nice, but again, a bit crowded in the evening. Perhaps this was also due to the number of children on board?
As Americans, we were provided a coupon book for one large bottle of water daily in the Dining Room. Since we drink quite a bit of water, we often ended up buying another bottle (2.07 Euros including the 15% service charge). Since DH and DD drank beer, we bought the beer coupons. DS and I drink soda, so we bought the soda coupons. I like to have wine in the evenings in the bar and was disappointed that they did not have a wine package similar to the beer and soda packages. The wine packages seemed only for dinner.
We had a very enjoyable time on our cruise. Would I cruise with MSC again? Absolutely. However, it IS different from the American lines. If the price and itinerary were the same, we would probably cruise an American line. We did miss having some of the shows with comedians, etc. Also, although we didn’t find the 5 language thing annoying (it was quite impressive to listen to actually), it did tend to get a bit long sometimes when you were waiting for your version. BUT, if the itinerary or the price on MSC was better, I would not hesitate to cruise with them again.