We were a 3 generation party of eight with five children that just returned from the Poesia Thanksgiving cruise. We are frequent cruisers and have sailed on seven different cruise lines.
Embarkation: We arrived to the port around 2:30PM to a mostly empty terminal. We rented a car at Budget and dropped it off very close to the cruise port. We were on the ship within twenty minutes of arriving. We didn't pre-register online and had no issues.
Food: After reading reviews, we were expecting Golden Corral buffet food and were pleasantly surprised by all the food service. MDR dinner was very good every night. We ate of off the Italian side mostly. I have a 'no steak' rule on cruises because it normally is never good on any ship. Even my picky eaters enjoyed the dinners. Service was also good. Lunch buffet was standard cruise fare--mass quantities of OK food. MDR lunch was very good so if you don't like the buffet, try that. Breakfast was also pretty standard. When going to More
the buffet go the the aft elevators and come up at the backside of the buffet to avoid the lines. We did this for breakfast every day and never waited. The pasta station at the front of the buffet was excellent for lunch. My boys said the late night pizza at the buffet was the best they have had on ships. I thought is was pretty good myself. We didn't do any room service. Desserts were so/so. Not as much chocolate as we would like but we went up to the pool deck for late night gelato when we needed a fix. This was very good and affordable--$1.50 for a single scoop is Dairy Queen pricing. There was free soft serve available all day on either end of the pool deck also.
Service: Dining and cabin service were very good. We had a laundry issue that our cabin steward went out of her way to fix. The front desk were professional and helped me when the Internet Cafe 'ate' my room card. Staff on ship were friendly and we got lots of 'hellos' as we walked around.
Drinks/bars: I highly recommend pre-purchasing drink packages before you sail. We printed the form from the MSC website and faxed our requested packages. They sent us an updated itinerary and we had no problems using the 'coupons'. We picked up the tickets at the mid-ship Deck 5 bar. We bought canned soda, beer and wine packages. The wine package let us get either a white or red in the main dining room. It was awesome to see "Minus $28" every night on my dinner drink tab and sign for $0!
Kids activities: This was very limited. My kids aren't normally crazy about cruise kids clubs but my 2 seven year olds peeked in the club and refused to go in. It looked like the staff were baby sitting and didn't have many planned activities. I think we were spoiled by our last Disney cruise for kids activities. My boys love playing basketball and the check out times for balls was limited.
Debarkation: This went slowly due to the fact that four Customs agents were on duty for the entire ship. No fault of MSC but this has been hit or miss with all of our cruises.
Pros: Food, Internet Cafe, connecting balconies, large room size, service, no pressure upselling (for spa, bingo, upscale dining, drinks, etc.), shower water pressure, plenty of closet/drawer space.
Cons: Kids activities, tender operations, short port times, limited TV channels
Overall it was a nice cruise at the right price. I'm no MSC 'cheerleader' but we would probably book again if the itinerary and price were right. Less