We sailed on the Poesia on Feb 18-25, eastern Caribbean in a cat.11 balcony.
Checking in was realatively easy but there is no separate line for those passengers that pre-checked in on MSC's website therefore there is no point doing so online before the cruise. Lines were non-existant on this cruise so it didn't make a difference but this is not always the case. We swapped cabins with my parents so needed to go to guest services on board to replace our key cards. The agent behind the desk kept us waiting as we stood in front of her as she answered the phone and talked to other staff. They should have a separate "behind the scene" person answering the phone on the first day as I imagine many people call asking questions. Again, not a big deal, just a small annoyance. Our first impression of the ship is how beautiful it is. Unlike many American ships that boast loud, bright and overbearing colors, this ship uses soft tones that appear very elegant in an understated sort of way. Kudos to the designers. I have done around 15 cruises and this is the nicest ship by far. I will give you two examples of how small details make a difference. In the photo gallery, there are folding panels that remain closed when the gallery is not open for business. On most ships, you just see the backside of these panels that look like, well panels. On the Poesia, there are beautiful pictures, probably by a well known photographer and I enjoyed walking through the closed photo shop just to look at them. Second detail is the public washrooms on deck 13 near the pool. They are on the sides of the ship overlooking the ocean with floor to ceiling windows. These are the nicest washrooms I have seen on a ship.
Our cabin stewards were very nice and polite and non-intrusive. We made the mistake of leaving one of our key cards in the slot by the door so they thought we were always in the cabin. They left a very polite note to remove the key when out of the room.
The pool area was probably our least favourite area of the ship. We always like to sit in the shade and the staff set up a mini store along the starboard side of the ship eliminating space for chairs in the shade. I really didn't like the fact that there are shopping areas by the pool. We found shaded areas on deck 15 forward that is also much quieter. Chair hogs were never so bad. By 8am, 75% of the chairs were held with towels. At one point, I simply removed some one's towel and took the chair. When they came back, I explained the ship's policy (although no one enforces it) and he stormed off angry. Too bad!
Onto the restaurants. We ate breakfast both in the MDR and at the buffet depending on what we were in the mood to eat. No complaints here at all. This is the first ship on which my wife did not complain about the coffee being to weak. Like all other ships, the orange juice is nothing like orange juice. Grapefruit juice is a much better choice. Again got lunch we alternated between the MDR and buffet. One point worth mentioning: the salad bars are first class. They had radicchio and wild green stems, something like the leaf of a dandelion plant, not quite sure exactly but I loved the fact that they served choices other than iceberg lettuce. There is also pumpkin and and variety of other seeds for garnishing. There was a great variety of fish, meats, veggies, pasta, etc. The layout of the buffet was the best I have seen. Compared to Princess, the Poesia managed the flow of people far better. Dinner was always in the MDR. Staff was excellent, food was great. I like the fact that most tables are max 6 guests. We were a party of 4 adults plus 1 infant and had our own table. One night, we knew we were not going to make the early seating so we asked the maitre d'hotel if we can change to late seating and he was very accommodating. We did not have our regular waiter, yet the service was just as good.
We loved the night time shows in the theater. Since the ship caters to an international crowd, there are no comedians or any type of act involving talking and this suited us just fine. We saw fabulous shows with acrobats, dancers, singers, etc. After each show, the performers lined the exits of the theater so you could say hello. Really nice touch.
I won't touch on the ports of call, other than to say the MSC seems to get a preferred spot on the docks in each port. The ship always had the spot closest to land. Nice!
Now the reason we chose this cruise. It is the only cruise line that allows infants under six months old. I am very happy we were able to do this cruise with our 3.5 month year old son. I am not sure why other cruise lines have such a policy but better for MSC as there were plenty of families with infants on board. It is the 3-5 year old kids that seem to make all the noise anyhow!
In summary, we truly enjoyed sailing with MSC and already booked another with them this summer in Europe.