We sailed on the MSC Poesia from January 9th - 16th.
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE: Check In was relatively smooth once we got to the port. Before that we had an utterly horrible experience with the Roadway Inn Airport/Cruiseport hotel. I could not tell you how much I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND this hotel. I am listing a comment on Trip Advisor if you are interested. We got to the port around 11:00 a.m and were ushered into seats to wait until the ship was cleared for entry. The previous cruise was a "Rock" themed cruise which we learned had a lot of drug and destruction issues that had to be dealt with before MSC could open up check in. Still we were on board around 1:00 p.m. and were able to sit the majority of our wait time in the terminal. FYI>>>> For those individuals who arrived after 12:30 p.m. the line backed up tremendously into the parking lot and we heard it was about a 2-3 hour boarding process for them. We always get to the ports early so we can get on board and start our cruise. We did self assist for Departure and were off the ship and at the airport for 8:00 a.m. Very organized!!!
SHIP: Ship was large accommodating over 3,700 passengers. Because of an UNBELIEVABLE price, we had a full ship but it never felt over crowded. The design of the ship I would say is classic. There is a large atrium but the color scheme is very subdued as compared to some other ships we had been on. The ship dEcor related to poetry and the other arts and was tastefully done. As others indicated, it is quite clean and is constantly being serviced.
ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were short (30-45 minutes) but entertaining. Every night was a variety show with jugglers, gymnasts, acrobats, etc., all together in one show. This was different than some American lines where one night's show wasdedicated to the gymnasts, another one the acrobats, and others the cast dancers. They had one night with Italian opera which was great but the other shows I would rate average but entertaining. The cruise director was social and nice. There were not a lot of announcements because everything was communicated in at least five languages. The cruise staff called the "Animation Team" were all very young but did their absolute best to entertain the guests.
FOOD: Lots of people on the boards have criticized the food. However, we found it fine. Every morning, there was a variety of Cereals, Omelet Bar, Fried Eggs, Pastry, Fresh Fruit (Rotated between Oranges, Honey Dew Melon, Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Grapefruit, etc.), and breakfast meats-some Italian. I found this variety much more than other American Cruise lines. For lunch, their was always a daily pasta, salad bar, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, and pizza. The hot lunch items rotated but there always was a carved meat, prepared salads, pasta, vegetables, potatoes, and dessert. Our service in the dining room for dinner was good. We did met a couple of people who got a 24 hour bug on the ship so I would suggest you exercise good sense about what you eat and wash your hands frequently. Also, as a tip if you are a wine drinker, order the wine package on line before you get on the ship. The price is 7 bottles for about $77 online. An absolute steal but the price goes up to $126 when you are on the ship. Still a good deal...your selection is about 7 different Italian wines.
PORTS: The ports were St Thomas, St Marten, and Nassau. We did not go on any of the ship tours because they are always over priced. You can get dock tours for much less in all of the ports. We went shopping and purchased jewelry in St. Thomas. MSC did not dock downtown so a $4.00 - 5 minute taxi drive was required. This was no big deal as we never had to wait to get a cab. Prices in St Thomas seemed to go up a little from our last trip but generally speaking the further away from the dock you get the better the prices. There was an electronics store which had some super prices on camera memory chips and cases. St Marten provided a boat shuttle to the public beach for a bout $5 where you could get a bucket of beers, two chairs, and an umbrella for $20. Be aware, that there were at least 6 ships in all of ports which made the port experience feel very crowded.
OTHER: Gift shops onboard were very expensive. Liquor and cigarette prices were cheaper in port. However, the SPA was very reasonable with first day specials of $99 for a mini facial/massage, 30% discounts on port days ($80 hour massage), and a 50% discount on the last day. Great deal!! The spa area was fine with 3 hot tubs that were under utilized the majority of the cruise. Beware: the sauna and steam room areas are quasi co-ed (separate rooms for men and women in a common area). Even though there were signs asking for swimwear, I did get a peek or two..... Bingo was also very cheap $10 for three cards but only two games (one regular bingo which went on to coverall) Also, casino was weighted more to table games. About 70 slot machines which were tight. Three penny machines that were always occupied and about 25 nickel machines.
INTERNATIONAL CULTURE: We had absolutely no problems with the multi-national nature of the cruise. However, we have been to Europe before and are very used to dealing with multiple cultures. Occupants are most American but about 50% of the ship is a mix between Italian, English, German, Asian, and French. Sadly, the only rude people we experienced were the Americans.
OVERALL: We paid $249 plus tax a person for this cruise. We had an inside cabin on the 14th deck. For the price of the cruise, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. However, I will state if you love the "Carnival-Type" cruise with hairy men contests, heavy drinking by the pool, dancing and singing waiters, and towel animals; this may not be your type of cruise.