We've cruised on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity and Carnival. The online reviews of MSC Poesia were mixed, to say the least. But we liked the fact that this is a newish ship, run by an Italian line, and we liked the price we got for a two-week Western and Eastern Caribbean cruise in a suite.
We flew into Miami, and took the shuttle to Fort Lauderdale. The check-in process went smoothly, and we were in our suite in time to check it and the ship out, and have lunch, before the crowds arrived. Our suite was lovely - clean, large, and with a bathtub. The balcony was small, and the furniture wasn't very comfortable, but overall we were pleased with our accommodations.
The staff is generally friendly and helpful. The dining staff seemed eager to have us eat as much as possible, and everywhere we went we were greeted and made to feel welcome. Bar prices were good; we purchased one of their wine packages in advance and that made the cost of our dinner wine very reasonable.
Those were most of the high points. We can quibble about a number of things, having experienced the comfort of Cunard and Celebrity, but these are the main areas where MSC could tweak the experience for its passngers:
- The cuisine was just ok. One of us is Italian, so we expected a higher standard from an Italian line. A few dishes were very good, most were acceptable. Nothing really wowed us. And regardless of previous laudatory reviews, don't bother with the lasagne. It's definitely not a highlight.
- The wine package wasn't accompanied by a list of what wines were included, so each evening was an experience in trying to find out what wine we could choose.
- The dining times were rigidly set, and were either too early or too late for our taste. MSC should consider switching to anytime dining.
- We worked out almost every day, and found the gym was kept far too warm for anyone serious about having a workout.
- We took a few ship-sponsored tours. The tour of Miami when we disembarked was excellent, but the tour of St. Thomas was very poor and a waste of time and money. The "guide" did very little guiding, rarely speaking and then almost unintelligibly, and he never, ever smiled. Fortunately, his part of the tour lasted only about an hour and then we were left to our own devices. But the water shuttle back to the ship did not leave when advertised - it left early, and so we had to pay for a taxi back to the ship.
- And a couple of quibbles about perks for suite-passengers...MSC provides a fruit bowl every day for those who book suites. We expected a little more than something so readily available at the buffet. Flowers, an Italian liqueur, chocolates - any number of creative, inexpensive ways to give an extra perk. And those bathrobes have seen better days!
MSC competes with so many other lines which, in our experience, do a better job. Yes, they've dropped their pricing, but too many things are falling through the cracks.
All in all, we found things to enjoy on this cruise, but we're left hesitant to recommend this line and this ship.