After reading many rather negative reviews about MSC on Cruise Critic I had doubts about trying the line but I liked the itinerary of the October 8, 2011 MSC Poesia cruise to New England and Canada and booked. I was very pleased with all aspects of the cruise experience and while the ship is very European and while the MSC cruise experience is somewhat different from what most North Americans have come to expect I enjoyed the trip and would certainly recommend the Poesia!
The ship was nearly new. It was very beautiful and had a very "upscale" look. It was immaculate! I found the staff to be friendly and helpful. Some of the service staff had some problems understanding English but all tried hard to please.
The food was very good and while portions were not large there were many courses and one could order as much as one wanted. Indeed menus and announcements were in four or five languages but this created no hardship and added interest and "a continental flair" to the trip. The wine, beer, and cocktail packages available offered libations at the lowest prices I have ever seen at sea and bar service was excellent.
Laundry and spa treatment prices were very reasonable. While sailing in North American Waters there is no charge for the use of the extremely fine spa (steam rooms, saunas, indoor whirlpools and relaxation areas).
Cabins were of decent size and nicely decorated. The entertainment was exceptional and there was music of all kinds to enjoy all over the ship all night long.
On the October 8th cruise there were people of many nationalities and many seniors but people mixed well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. At the Captian's cocktail parties MSC was VERY generous with the drinks. Staff did not pressure guests to buy but were always near at hand to serve. Some areas of the ship did seem a little congested at times, but I think this is to be expected when a cruise sells out. One friend had issues with her room being noisy and MSC staff worked with her to ensure she was satisfied - until another room in her category became available they gave her the use of a balcony room and for half the cruise she basically had two rooms to use.
The cruise was remarkably well priced ... and I believe that for the money most guests paid they received an exceptional cruise experience. MSC has different pricing policies when sailing in Europe but in North American waters I would say they are very competetive.
As on Celebrity I was met on boarding by MSC staff who took my hand luggage and escorted me to my cabin. In port attractive marquis awnings were set up at the entrance to the ship along with MSC flags and potted plants which provided a most attractive arrival/departure point. Smoking was only allowed in some areas and was not a problem for me - a non-smoker. Provisions were made for people with handicaps and disabilities, and one guest was on board with a guide dog. Staff were extremely helpful when guests needed assistance entering or leaving the tenders. Special staff were always available to assist North American passengers. I would recommend The MSC Poesia and the Canada/New England cruise!