This was our (2 adults + 1 11 year old child) first cruise on MSC, previously we had been on 2 cruises on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas, but this time we were struggling to find an Itinerary that we fancied in the summer ... Read More
This was our (2 adults + 1 11 year old child) first cruise on MSC, previously we had been on 2 cruises on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas, but this time we were struggling to find an Itinerary that we fancied in the summer holidays, and the RCCI prices were quite expensive, so we looked at other cruise Itineraries and found MSC, which had some good Itineraries, leaving Venice and vising some interesting places like Athens & Olympia.
The price of the MSC cruise was very good for a Fantasica Balcony room and they had a promotion on with a free drinks package for all of us, making it an AI cruise, the price was nearly half the price of the equivalent from RCCI at the same time.
We flew to Venice from the UK 4 days before the cruise, as we wanted to visit Venice, which was great, but expensive, we were relieved to join the cruise to stop paying extortionate prices for food & drink!!!
When we met the ship in Venice, she was very impressive, similar size to the Indy and looked great. We boarded easily, I had already checked in online, so it was just a case of dropping off our cases and having our documents checked, which was quickly done.
We boarded to a waiting glass of juice, there was the joining the cruise picture which we avoided as having dragged 3 large cases across Venice, we didn't look our best!!! there was not much info on what to do next but we had a quick chat with a member of staff trying to sell us the drinks packages and she said our keys would be in our cabin, so we went straight to our cabin on the 10th deck.
We had a quick walk through the ship to explore on the way to our cabin, the ship felt very bright and lively, with funky decoration and furnishings, places like the zebra bar etc.
On entering our cabin we were very impressed, the cabin felt larger than the equivalent cabin on the Indy, the furnishings were very clean and well maintained, it just felt a little bigger. There was plenty of wardrobe space, cases fitted nicely under the bed. We had a comfy sofa which became a good sofabed for our son, the cabin staff came in every night for the turn-down service and made his bed up. The bathroom was a good size, olky downside was there is a shower curtain, so bathroom the floor got easily wet, I was used to a proper show door which kept the water in better. The balcony was a good size, which had 2 chairs and a small table, the sides were closed in so was very private and gave an amazing view.
The restaurants were good, the quality of the food was very good at the main restaurant 'Il Palladio' that we were allocated, we ate at 19:15 (earliest sitting), quality was very good but there was not allot of choice on the menu, usually 3-4 mains & starters, often recurring on other nights, but with children they will provide hot dogs/burgers etc. We paid E$15 per person surcharge extra 1 night for the Florentine steak which was very nice and worth the extra in the main restaurant.
The buffet restaurant 'Villa Pompeiana' on the 13th deck was good, but I found it difficult to make a 'full meal' in the evenings, it was ok for snacks, but the nights we went in to eat, we gave up and went to 'Il Palladio' instead. The Pizza area was always popular, breakfast was good, lots of choice for cooked breakfast, tea's, coffee & juice, lots of cereals, fresh fruit and baked choices.I also found the Buffet restaurant best at lunch time, they had a really good 'ethnic' section, so during the day they would have BBQ ribs, Rice, Rosotto's, Casseroles etc, this would be much better suited to the evening offering which was generally limited? The quality of the food was always good, but could be abit bland and did not have as much variety as I expected, especially for an Italian ship.
These is a Sushi restaurant, but it was quite expensive when we checked, so we did not bother,
The entertainment was good, we went to the shows after dinner at 21:45, the show performers were the same everynight, usually around a theme like Romeo & Juliet/Little Red Riding Hood/Hollywood etc, the shows were great fun and the cast really put the effort in, they sometimes had a few performers in, like strongmen/acrobats etc. One thing I noticed is that MSC did not appear to have any visiting acts, like RCCI had comedians, magicians, tribute bands etc, but the shows were very good and well performed, but did not have the variety that the occasional visiting performer give.
The free drinks package worked very well, a good thing is you could get a drinks for everyone with 1 card, on RCCI you had to produce each card per drink, but on MSC 1 card could get us 3 drinks, which was much easier. We had all the non branded beers/spirits/cocktails/milkshakes/smoothies etc.The package also gave free Gelato which was great, having paid fortunes in Venice!!
As we had a young son, we did not spend that much time in the clubs/bars, mainly just having a quick drink after/before the shows on the way to the cabin, most bars had a singer/musician and some of the show performers joined in the dancing. The bar areas did appear to have allot more space/seating areas, I think this is because the Poesia did not have the big Atrium the Indy had, so it felt allot more space was available for general seating etc.
There were 2 large pools on the ship, both were salt water, which my son did not like, so was a disappointment, he was used to fresh water pools like on the Indy, by the end of the cruise they did not look very clean. There were 2 jacuzzi's at each pool, these were very busy and allot of people stayed in them along time, particularly teenagers, where the MSC deck crew had trouble moving them on.
There were less activities on board, there was table football and table tennis, but they were always busy, also there was a tennis court, but we never used this. There were less organised activities compared to the Indy, but being only 7 days with 7 ports, that did not bother us, I wouldn't recommend MSC for transatlantic with 7 days at sea! my son missed the climbing wall and wave rider, also now they have slides, but none of this on the Poesia.
The Itinerary of the cruise was the main reason we chose the Poesia, leaving/returning to Venice, we visited Bari.Olympia (Katakolon), Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Sarande, Dubrovniok. We enjoyed all the ports apart from Sarande, which did not feel great, lots of beggers and not allot to see and do, we kept to the front area as it did not look very welcoming. We did all the tours ourselves, usually getting off the ship and joining a local coach/taxi, the MSC tour prices were very expensive, for example we got a coach transfer to Olympia from the port for E$28 for all 3 of us, when MSC wanted E$35 per person for the same trip, so do your research on the excursions.
There were allot of families on board, so the age of the passengers felt much younger than RCCI cruises we had been on. Allot of the comments I had read about MSC was that UK & US passengers do not like they are not catered for, as a UK passenger I agree, we are very much in the minority, but that's fine by me, it is a very European feeling ship, with lots of different people and languages, which made it interesting
Overall, we had a great holiday, RCCI are slightly better IMO, but not by much, and at nearly double the price of MSC, MSC were much better value. I would recommend MSC, but just research that the ship has the facilities you want, as there is less to do on board, but what MSC do, they do well, I will definitely consider them for our next cruise. Read Less