Second Seating Dinner Table #602 Palladio Restaurant
Our First MSC Cruise - A GREAT VACATION VALUE
While finalizing our October Princess cruise we saw a flier for the MSC Poesia. Seeing fall colors in New England/Canada and visiting Quebec was appealing and the MSC cruise was about half what we would have paid for Princess. We loved the MSC cruise. Note to Princess Cruises - we still love you and we'll be back on your ships. You're still my favorite.
MSC Cruises - Company Background:
Most of us have never heard of, nor sailed on, MSC cruise ships. MSC Cruises is a subsidiary of the privately owned Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world's second largest container shipping company. It's the youngest and fastest growing cruise line growing from handful of cruise ships in 2006 to fourteen ships by 2012 including two with More
four-thousand passenger capacity.
MSC Cruises = an International Cruise Line:
MSC markets to numerous nationalities, so many cultures and languages are represented on-board. Announcements and menus are in five to seven languages. This diverse group of passengers can be exciting and interesting, but it may be a turn-off for those accustomed to North American ships. MSC cruise ships have a decidedly European, cosmopolitan feel.
MSC Cruise ships have an Italian influenced European look -- understated elegance and quality furnishings. The Poesia is a beautiful ship with expansive public areas. It's well laid out and has many banks of elevators. The elevator doors close quickly; take care not to be pinched by the doors.
Interior cabins are a bit wider than on Princess ships so it's possible to walk between the floor bed and the stored ,wall-mounted bed. The shower is larger than on Princess and has a convenient, hand held, adjustable spray. But storage space in the cabin is very limited = less than on Princess ships.
MSC Poesia is an exceptionally clean ship earning a perfect score of 100% on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) inspection reports. I've never seen such rigorous and effective cleaning of a cruise ship. Bed linens are laundered at least every other day. Hand sanitizers are everywhere and all soap and towel dispensers in public restrooms are filled and in working order. Passengers are encouraged to use a paper towel to avoid contact with handles to open the restroom doors minimizing spread of germs. The Poesia has set new, high standards for ship cleanliness. Kudos to MSC!!!
Some passengers expect every food item to be identical to what they eat in the USA. They don't realize European food is different. Pasta is firm "al dente" and beef is lean and tends to be tough. I've had Florentine steak at a fine restaurants in Italy; it was lean and tough. I prefer more tender beef that is flavored with fat so I did not order the steak Florentine.
Passengers who don't realize the food is European can become "ugly Americans" loudly complaining about everything. My wife and I were embarrassed by their behavior and avoided them.
We rated the food as good to very good. I had one fish fillet that was too salty, but all other meals were good. Service at our dinner seating were excellent. Dinner and service at the L'Obelisco restaurant was superb.
We ate most breakfasts at the cafeteria and all lunches in the dining rooms. We enjoyed conversations with passengers at meals and became great friends with our dinner partners. It was a great experience.
One last point, written reviews and complaints by the handful of "ugly Americans" were actually helpful. This lowered our expectations so much before the cruise that we were pleasantly surprised the "complainers" got it all wrong. It was a great cruise experience; we'll be back on MSC Cruises.
Entertainment - Worth the Cost of the Cruise:
Entertainment on American cruise ships focuses on Broadway type shows, singers, musicians, comedians, lectures, etc. International cruise lines cannot feature language specific entertainment such as comedians or lectures. Entertainment on the Poesia was exceptionally diverse and extremely good.
The singers and dancers were very good. Mimma Barra is a phenomenal singer - a young Barbra Streisand with the voice of an angel! There were two male gymnasts who exhibited incredible grace, balance, and strength. Their ability to support complete body weight from their neck or their hand twisted behind their back was amazing. Two female gymnasts exhibited flexibility and feats that seemed impossible. And a young man on a unicycle defied gravity and exhibited amazing balance.
In addition to entertainment in the theater, there was music, singing, dancing, etc. throughout the ship and a big band! The exceptionally diverse, excellent entertainment was worth the cost of the cruise.
We went on private tours arranged by Cruise Critic members and several of the ship's excursions. All were excellent. The ship's tour guides were very good and when the excursion included a meal, it was excellent food at a very nice restaurant.
We've attended wine tasting on many ships. The person conducting the session is sometimes arrogant and doesn't share much information. We had met the Sommelier at dinner in the L'Obelisco restaurant and were impressed with him. Mr. Luigi Di Fiore is a delightful man. He's passionate about wine and extremely knowledgeable. Wine tasting with him was a great experience and we learned a lot. I would highly recommend attending his wine tasting event.
Embarkation - Disembarkation:
Fast, efficient and all personnel were helpful and pleasant.
Areas for Improvement on the MSC Poesia:
The most notable problem with MSC is communication. It is difficult to get information from the MSC website. The information we obtained before and during the cruise was often incomplete or wrong. Go to the front desk and ask three different people the same question. You'll get three different answers.
I asked for instructions on how to connect my computer to the ship's WIFI. The first instructions were wrong. I went back to the desk and got different instructions. I could connect to the internet, but the instructions were not correct. I gave up on using the ship's internet and took my computer to shore.
I visited the gym and was told that my shoes did not qualify as "athletic shoes". I pointed out that I use these shoes in a gym every week. The gym sent me to the reception desk. They had no idea nor definition of what an athletic shoe is. I insisted on meeting with the manager of the spa and gym. She said my shoes were fine for use in the gym. The problem is that the ship has a requirement to use "athletic shoes" in the gym but they don't have a definition of what an athletic shoe is.
We made a reservation for dinner in the L'Obelisco restaurant. When we arrived, there was a sign in front of both doors to the restaurant stating "CLOSED". The restaurant was dark with no lights nor evidence of people. We walked past the "CLOSED" signs, through a pitch dark room, and discovered there were lights at the far end to enjoy a great meal.
UNTIL MSC POESIA CORRECTS THE POOR/FAULTY COMMUNICATION WITH PASSENGERS, YOU NEED TO BE ALERT TO PROBLEMS ARISING FROM INCORRECT INFORMATION WHICH COULD AFFECT YOUR CRUISE VACATION. Less