We booked this cruise approximately 6 weeks before sailing. The price was very attractive and came in at approx $1900 including all taxes for the two of us for a balcony for the two weeks. It was an additional bonus when we were assigned our guarantee cabin we got an upgrade to a category 10 (large balcony mid-ship).
We were driving so we booked a hotel near the airport that offered both free parking for the 2 weeks and a shuttle to and from the pier. It was $150 well spent at the Cambria Suites. Very nice place to stay.
Embarkation was somewhat difficult on this cruise. We arranged a 12 noon shuttle to the pier and our driver said there was a problem at the pier so he delayed our pickup until 1:00 pm. Glad he did because when we arrived at 1:10 pm they were lined up for about 1000 feet in the parking lot outside the terminal. Good thing it wasn't raining or excessively hot. Really felt sorry for elderly. Apparently the previous cruise was a charter for a "jam fest" and drug seizures were made on their departure so i can well imagine what kind of welcome they got from local officials when they got back from their cruise. The ship was not cleared until 12:30 pm. The next week on our back to back it cleared at 10:45 am.
The ports of call were all nice. Been to them before and it was just our intention to do as little as possible at each of the stops. We got off and did a little wandering around and shopping. A little bonus was that each port of call we seemed to have very good berth making it a shorter walk from the ship to shore.
Most of our time was spent enjoying our balcony. I know it's against the rules but we were able to get 24 budweiser and 5 liters of wine on board for the trip. We also purchased the $77 wine package (7 bottles of wine) along with the $47 / 14 beer package. Those prices are unheard of on any other cruise line. You have to make the order before you cruise and your coupons will be waiting for you in the dining room on the first night.
We enjoyed the meals. Very little difference than any other cruise line. Some meals were better than others and with the meals repeated on the second week we used the knowledge gained from the first week to order perfectly the second. Our waiter Christain was fantastic. He was Indonisian and his English language skills were impressive. Having good table mates was a bonus.
A word of advice regarding children on the ship. The cruise line offers free passage for children traveling with their parents. We had plenty on our ship. Lots of examples of parents not controlling their children. I would definitely not book this cruise during any of the school breaks. In my opinion nothing good could come out of having more children on board.
This is a five language ship. No problem with that at all. The staff was wonderful. Most could speak some English. A smile with a little eye contact and a clear word of thank-you was always well received.
We did hear complaining on board the ship. I honestly thought the cruise was great.
I guess I should touch on the smoking issues or non-issues . No smoking on the balconies is wonderful. You can actually enjoy the balcony while the ship is moored and not have to contend with the chain-smoking neighbors. It is smokey on the port side of the Zebra Lounge and the red lounge next to it on the port side. The casino is a blue haze. I am not a big fan of smoking but I can live with the smoking policy on MSC Poesia.
Our Cabin was very nice. Seemed slightly bigger than the VA cabin we had on the HAL Westerdam. Everything was functional. Like every other cruise ship space is at a premium so when the bathroom door is open you cannot get into the closet. As expected the shower is small but I wish I had the same water pressure at home.
What a great way to get out of the Canadian winter. Hope to do it again next year.