Of course this is only my opinion, and impression of this cruise. I will answer any ??'s I can.
It would appear that there is a lot of disorganization going on with MSC. Many times I got conflicting answers, or information. Here's my impression of the B2B I took on the Poesia November 14-28, 2010
I got to the Pier at about 12:20,and made my way to the "holding pen"....an area where rows of side by side chairs were. I was handed a health form to complete. They would allow one row at a time into the check in area. After about 40 minutes I was in the check in area, where an MSC agent noticed my "on-line check in form".....but recommended that I stay in the regular line...as that was shorter, and moving quicker than the pre-check in on line, line....he was right. In about 10 minutes I was being checked in. Then it was up to the ship....all in all a little more than an hour.
The cabins were ready, and I was directed to the last elevator.....which was really the front of the ship. I went to my cabin...Cat 8, balcony deck 14....cabin 008. I had booked about 4 months ago. No cabin change, or upgrade. I think I should have waited till the last minute....as I was hearing a lot of people had received upgrades....of all sorts. I was on a B2B so I wanted the same cabin for both weeks, and this was one that was available for both trips. 14008 was spotless. I had been on the Orchestra awhile back, and the Poesia is pretty much the same. Counter top space is at a premium. No "love seat", but an armless upholstered chair. The bathroom is big enough..all liquid soap/shampoo dispensers. Big, usually fluffy towels. The shower isn't real big, and the shower curtain insisted on being intimate. Plenty of hot water, and pressure. For whatever reason, during port days, the balcony would have a pretty strong (diesel) exhaust odor...not so good for sitting....I didn't notice it while underway.
The welcome buffet was jammed. Food was mensa-mensa (so-so). Seating was at a premium.
The Fire Drill....a disaster in itself. My muster station was on deck 6. My cabin on deck 14. No elevator service.....I have bad knees, and feet...I was told I couldn't do the lift!! By deck 11 I had had it. I told them if I couldn't get on an elevator, I was going back up. I got on an elevator for the rest of the journey to 6. Not enough places to sit. After about ten minutes they demonstrated the life jacket procedure....then proceeded to do the rest of the languages.....then after what seemed like forever, people just started walking away.....so I joined them....no way I was waling back up to deck 14. Nobody took attendance.
I had requested early dining, and was assigned late. I went to find the Maitre D', and had it changed with no questions. Early was 5:30....maybe just a tad too early.
I was seated at a table for 4 with three women. Dinner was unremakable....not bad, but not great. I didn't like having to pick my dessert when choosing my meal. The ladies were satisfied with their dinners as was I. Service seemed slow, but it was the first night. Menus were a little confusing, and the waiter seemed to be too busy to come back to explain, we just picked whatever, from where ever. Dinner took about 1 1/2 hours.
We set sail at around 7.
The welcome abord show was at 8:30. Okay, again, not great.....but not offensive. I don't really care for the "canned music", and would rather have had a live band.
TV's only get a few stations, other than the MSC stuff. No network tv. CNN, TCM, TNT, espanol.
The "Free Movie" was only on a couple times a day....this night was "Fools Gold" which was pretty old! The outside "Big Screen" mostly showed MSC Commercials....they did have the Monday Night Football game on....but it was super windy.....didn't see anyone out there. I didn't notice it on the cabin TV.....maybe one of the bars had it on. They had a few not so recent movies that started at 10PM later in the week.
The different lounges had some very good entertainment. The classical trio in the center of the ship was very good.
The Tuesday, first sea day...formal night....nothing to crow about. The menu wasn't great. I had duck....which was fine. My table mate had strip sirloin, and said it was fine. The waiters did their thing, by carrying around the desert, which was a Limon Cello (sp??) cake. It was fine also.....again, not superb, or to die for.....but fine. The Classical Italian show was okay, but the soprano (Rosita Tassi??) was too loud, and not very good. The rest of the talent was pretty good.
Wed, we arrived in St Thomas before 6AM. Weather was fine. Having been here a billion times, nothing has changed. St Maarten on Thursday....arrived before 7AM....left at 1:00. I know I don't really get moving till around 10AM....so it didn't leave much time ashore....had to be onboard at 12:30. Friday was a sea day. Sat, in Nassau.... some old place.....arrived around 1...4 other BIG ships in port..we were first to leave at 6:30. Sunday arrived in Ft Lauderdale at 4:30 AM.
The Gala nite Friday......the lobster was a little better than my cruise on the Orchestra 18 months ago.....(that's not saying much...my review of that ship should still be there)..however, it was only maybe 3 bite-fulls, and the “stuffing was just dry breadcrumbs. They would drizzle melted butter, if you want it. The waiters did their Baked-Alaska parade.....still using real fire. The Gala Midnight Buffet, at 11PM on deck was nice to look at, but very disorganized, and very unremarkable......mostly pastry, and cold salads. It was very crowded, and I'm pretty sure I was groped a few times as I got “carried along” in a mosh thing that really wasn't a line. But I'm not complaining, and wanted to get in line again!!
It was a mostly elderly crowd this week, not many kids, but a few toddlers were always in the whirlpools, and pools. I did notice the towel police moving towels off empty chairs, on a few occasions.
So all in all, an unremarkable cruise, with unremarkable food, pretty good entertainment, and a pretty good price.
I'm on a B2B, so this (Sunday) morning, I got to stay in my cabin till 9:30. I was able to order room service at 7:30....so I got my coffee (always pretty good, and strong) without having to go through the buffet disembarking crowd.
At 9:30 I went to the assigned lounge, and finally discovered a few attendants at a table. I showed my cruise card, and they gave me a slip of paper that said B2B. After about ten minutes we were herded to an exit, and put into the same holding pen that was used on embarkation day a week ago. We were told that we would have to wait till the ship was “cleared” by the TSA, and the Coast Guard....nobody knew how long it would take. You could leave...but not be able to reboard, if you did, till noon. We were fortunate, and were back on board a little after ten. After much searching, as there were no signs, or notices, I found coffee, and a few croissants, and mini-muffins on a table....no butter, or jams. Not a lot of communication on this ship....and it's not the language barrier.
The repeaters were allowed to eat lunch prior to general boarding.....a real treat, since the food was hot, fresh, and still hot when you got to a table. If only it could be always this way....however, still bland, and unremarkable.
The general boarding has started.....looks like a ton of kids on this cruise, being Thanksgiving, and all. Turned out to be over 400 kids....yeah, 400!!
Sunday nite I was alone at a table for 8. Lots of early seating kids...some crying, yelling...kids being kids.
Monday nite...still alone at my table...still crying kids. Monday nite football was showing in one of the bars. We docked in Key West at the Navy/Coast Guard base....which I thought was odd, being a foreign flagged vessel. We had to trolley back and forth to town, and show ID, ship card, and allow inspection of any bags to get back on base.
I decided to eat at the dinner buffet for the rest of the cruises... About the same menu as the dining room....but with roasted pork, and mashed taters....which wasn't on the DR menu....and not too bad. But still a crying kid, and a few running around and helping themselves to the buffet.
Thanksgiving was in Grand Cayman. The lunch buffet had a bunch of carved pumpkins..they did have a Happy Thanksgiving cartoon type slide show on the big screen tv on deck....instead of MSC, and UNICEF, commercials.... so they knew it was a USA Holiday......didn't notice any football games anywhere, though. They had turkey roast of some kind...no real bird...just a white meat roast for lunch and dinner buffet...the REAL bird showed up at the 11:15 P.M. Midnight buffet at the carving station. The Topical on deck party at 10:00P.M. Was pretty good.
Desserts really bite on this boat.....no chocolate cakem(okay, just once that I've seen).., no apple, squash, pumpkin pie, or stuffing, or mashed taters. They did serve sweet potatoes. And cranberry sauce. I think there was stuffing served with the turkey in the DR. Speaking of chocolate....they ran out of chocolate milk Tuesday. The attendant told me today they might have it tomorrow (Friday....maybe they will buy a ½ gallon in Cozumel, or some Hershey's Syrup??)
We docked Friday in Downtown Cozumel.....same old place. Amazingly they did come up with chocolate milk today at lunch.....but ran out at dinner.
I got a fantastic Balinese massage.....best I ever had....well worth the experience.
Saturday was my last sea day. Of course the pools were standing room only....kids everywhere...I love my balcony!!!!
I got my luggage tags. In the evening the disembarkation instructions came. They do want you out of the cabin by 7:30. We appeared to be pulling into Ft Lauderdale like 1 AM Sunday. Of course it's noisy Sunday morning, so you, or at least I, can't sleep past 6.
I went to the dining rm for the first time for breakfast. I shared the table with a couple from across the pond.....we pretty much were in agreement with MSC.......
I said in my Orchestra review 18 months ago that that was an unremarkable cruise, and I would cruise with MSC again.....if the price was right....Well the price was right, and I realize it was a holiday cruise....so that explains all the kids, but still all things considered.....this may be my last MSC cruise. The help, except for the cabin, and dining room people, were not friendly, even when I initiated the hello. Most of the buffet help would still walk in front of you.....I always felt that in a business the customer has the right of way....always, and the help yields to them....not here. The Entertainment Animation Team (kids in their 20's), were fun when they were “on”...but ignored you, and totally avoided eye contact when not on stage....well the girls (with the exception of Maryanna??) did anyway.....maybe too many guys hit on them....who knows...but the guys were friendly, and would say hi. Many of the help would say hi....but just as many would not.
So all in all I enjoyed my cruise, as I spent a ton of time on my balcony, and morning room service coffee.....and that's enough for me.