I just returned from a cruise on the MSC Poesia on December 12, 2010. We did the 7-nt western Caribbean itinerary hitting Key West, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel.
We stayed at the Hilton Garden and where we parked our car and got shuttle service to and from the pier ($8 each way). The hotel was nice. Very crowded.
Embarkation: After reading countless reviews of what this cruise line was like, I was skeptical and went to embarkation expecting the worst. Turns out, I was wrong. From curbside to walking on the ship was 15 minutes (and I didn't even complete the online check-in).
Staterooms: The first thing we did was go right to our stateroom. We had a balcony room on deck 11, two twin beds, sitting couch and there was adequate space. The rooms had maroon decor with a big mirror at the foot of the bed. The balcony had two chairs on it and a little table. The bathroom felt a little bigger than some of the standard cruise lines (or maybe it was just the lay out).
Public Areas: There were plenty of public areas around the ship, all with plenty of space. Aside from the main theater, the Zebra lounge and the pool areas also hosted a lot of the activities. The dance club on deck 14 also seemed to be a hot spot as well. The ship decor was absolutely gorgeous. You could tell there was a lot of time and money put into decorating.
Staff: Kind of a mixed bag here. A lot of the staff seemed unhappy and a lot of the staff seemed very positive and upbeat (Indonesian crew). Our table server, asst. server and cabin steward were all awesome. Anything we needed or wanted, they were spot on.
Food: I know this is a hot button topic for this cruise line but to be honest, I didn't have one bad meal. Yes, the food was a little bland but it's nothing that the salt shakers on the table couldn't fix. Just a couple of things I had in the main dining room: Prime Rib, Lobster, Ribeye, Seabass, and Spaghetti. The beer and wine service was really fast and they tried their best to keep your water/tea glass filled up. I noticed the servers had quite a few tables, so at times things were a little slow. It didn't bother me, that's why you're at sea, to escape the hustle and bustle. Our table mates were awesome!
Entertainment: There was a melting pot of entertainment aboard the ship. Opera's, cirque style shows, Broadway tribute, singing and dancing. There was also karaoke around the ship, a disco, a string band in the atrium (on deck 5) and a lot of poolside music. There was an American activities director on board who kept things flowing and a great entertainment staff. The animation team was a group of kids in their 20's that kept the crowd dancing, singing, doing trivia and kept everyone on their toes. They did a great job, were mostly Italian but spoke great English. Don't expect to be geared up on the activities around the ship.
Disembarkation: Again, the reviews I read made me ready to go through complete hell but it was totally opposite. We did self assist disembarkation and from the time we left the stateroom to actually being on the pier waiting for our shuttle was 30 minutes max.
In closing, this cruise is for you if: you want to experience European culture, an appreciate a beautiful ship and aren't expecting to be geared up the whole cruise.
This cruise isn't for you if: you only want to hear announcements in English (they do give a majority of the announcements in five languages), if you want to be waited on hand and foot or if you are not patient.