Forget the bad reviews...just not true at all! We boarded on 12/19. I originally booked two cabins - one on deck nine and one on deck 11 for a famil of 6 (my dad who is 92, my three girls 18, 15, and 12, and my wife and I.
MSC called me a week later and asked me if we would like to have another balcony cabin and for an additional $200.00 to create family accomodations. They booked us all on deck 11 (balcony) 11185, 11187, 11189. GREAT cabins!
Embarkation: Smooth, fast, and efficient. We boarded around 2PM and it was nice to spend the day on the ship. The MSC Poesia is a beautiful ship. You will not be disappointed. She is always kept nice and clean. Cabins are great. Plenty of space. I tipped my cabin steward extra on arrival and he took very good care of us (all three cabins). Always clean and he provided what every we needed.
Staff, crew, and all personnel: Always very friendly. Always with a smile. They all spoke English, Italian and their native languages fluently. Never an issue with communications. Our waiter (table 460, fifth floor) Pasquale took care of us. Food always fresh and hot. I gained 5 pounds! It was also nice to see the Captain and crew. Gala night was incredible with free cocktails in the Zebra Lounge. The Captain was also on stage that evening and took pictures with families. The midnight buffet puts Royals and Carnivals to shame! You will not be disappointed! This was such a nice event. You get to meet all the chefs and get to mingle with them.
Shows: Good. Go to all of them. It is Las Vegas style entertainment!
Spa: I worked out every morning. No problems getting equipment. Steam and sauna great! Wait until day 5 of cruise to get a great deal on a Bali style massage. Worth it!
Pool area and bars: Always packed, but you will always find a place to sit or lay down. Wait staff do not bug you or push drinks or pictures. You don't have to listen to reggae music all day either!
Activities: Lots of them. They have a group of entertainers called the animation team that keep things going all over the ship.
Food and Drinks. I did not have any problems with the quality of food (dining room or up in the cafeteria). Always hot and fresh. We pre purchased a wine package for $77.00 that gives you a red or white for dinner every evening. The wines are great, even if you do not get a huge selection. I also purchased a soda package for each family memeber that gives them 14 cans of soda each for the week. Worth it! There is plenty of juices, tea and water whenever you want it.
This is an Italian ship so the pasta is cooked al dente (it is not raw). Meats always tender and delicious. Fish yummy! The Christmas cruise was packed, so we had a little slower service at the dinner table for water and coffee, but you are on vacation so whats the rush!
Pizza - fresh and hot. Truly Italian style pizza. Ice cream and gelato yummy.
Port of calls: Great! Key West docked right near town center. You can walk to any site in Key West. Ocho Rios (don't like so much, but you can take a small walk to malls or buy an excursion from the ship. We have a big family, so we don't buy excursions - way to expensive for a few hours. We like to shop or spend time on the ship. The Poesia is beautiful, so if you want take advantage of all that she has to offer. Georgetown is tender and it was fast and efficient in terms of tender service. Cozumel - the ship docks right near the town center, so you can walk right into town and have some great fun and food.
Overall: Ten times better than Carnival and Royal in terms of food and service. My wife worked for Royal and my nephew worked for Carnival, so we are very familiar with the ships and the quality of service and food. MSC really worked hard to please every passenger and again the ship is beautiful. No ice-skating or rock climbing, but again their are plenty of children activities on board and the ship has lots of lounges (big lounges) to sit and relax and enjoy the music.
The only disappointment - rude and intoxicated passengers. Specially US passengers. I am America and I have to say that Americans need to brush up on their manners! There are people from all over the world on this ship (Italians, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc.), but Americans are very rude!
Ignore the bad reviews...they are simply not true and enjoy MSC. Can't beat the price either. By the way, you will be charged $12 per day per passenger ($6 for children 15 and under) for tips. Really not that much for great service. We also tipped extra.
I am going to book early for next year and plan on doing a back to back for the holidays!