This was our fifth cruise, but our first with MSC. It was also our first cruise to the Mediterranean. Our time on the MSC Poesia (sailing out of Venice, Italy) was a different experience than we've had with U.S. based cruises. Much of the difference was due to this ship having six official languages. Most activities and entertainment were limited to those that required little verbal interaction between guests.
This ship had a much smaller selection of on-board events and activities than we've seen with other cruise lines. The primary daily activities were dance lessons and karaoke. There were no scheduled special-interest gatherings that are common on other lines (friends of Bill W., LGBT).
The signs on board promote this as an Eco-ship, but in reality this seems to be greenwashing. Guests are instructed to put towels in the sink if they need to be washed, but all towels were replaced daily regardless.
Cabin 11167 is a balcony room, typical of most others on that deck. There are no rooms across the hallway, so there is little passing foot traffic or slamming of doors, making this a nice, peaceful retreat.
The room only has 1 sitting chair with a small movable table. There is also a desk and two nightstands with lamps. A large floor-to-ceiling mirror is at the foot of the bed. The TV screen is tiny (only 18” wide). Movies are 7 euros pay-per-view.
There is a nice-sized mini-fridge with room to keep your own water bottles.
The bathroom has liquid soaps only, and oddly, no washcloths are provided.
On the balcony there are two chairs, plus a bulky footstool that always seemed to be in the way. A small side table would be more useful. The lifeboats are visible 3 decks below the balcony.
Towel animals every day are a staple on other cruise lines, but apparently MSC doesn't do it. It's a small thing, but it's something we missed.
We took a ferry from the cruise port to San Marco Square, where we spent a couple of hours admiring the architecture and exploring the narrow side streets filled with shops.
This was an unscheduled stop, due to the port at Athens being closed because of bad weather. This is a tendered port, but plenty of ferries were available to transport guests despite this being a last-minute change to the itinerary.
No bus excursions were available, but there is a little tram that does a city tour. We spent the time in port exploring the many side streets full of little shops that are immediately accessible from the dock.
Albanian Riviera And Its Villages
This 6-hour tour is a pleasant scenic drive through the Albanian countryside and along the coast. There is a short stop at the natural spring and waterfall at Borsh. Food and drink are available at the local shops.
The next stop is at Porto Palermo Castle. It has an interesting history and spectacular views. To get to the castle is a ¾ mile round-trip walk over rugged stones and loose gravel, up and down the hill.
The final stop at Himare was simply an opportunity to buy a meal at a local restaurant. There are a few small shops to browse, but not much else to do here.
The stops on this excursion were pleasant, but the scenic drive along the coast was equally enjoyable.
Go up to the top deck of the ship early in the morning for spectacular views of the ship entering the port and making a near 180° turn just before the scenic bridge. At this port, there's really no need to do a guided excursion, unless you want to travel beyond the old town. MSC offers a shuttle to the old town (2.5 miles away) for a small fee. It's easy to walk around the old town on your own and see all the major sights within a couple of hours. Plan to walk about 1 ½ to 2 miles exploring the streets and walls.
There is a large concentration of majestic, old cathedrals here. The financial investment in these churches could feed the entire city for years!
The narrow side streets have many small shops selling everything from unique Croatian handicrafts to Chinese tchotchkes. Most only take the local currency and you will see many signs reading “no euros”. There are ATMs on nearly every corner, making it easy to withdraw a little pocket money for the day.