Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. Families. Value for Money.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
This was our ninth cruise overall, our first time with MSC. We cruised previously with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, and Holland America. After reading the reviews, we embarked with low expectations.
Since we live in South Florida, getting to Fort Lauderdale was no big deal. We arrived at the Port Everglades around 11:00 AM. Embarkation was slow, but painless. MSC says they are in the process of rebuilding terminal 4, but we hear the MSC Divina is taking the Poesiaâ€™s place and is sailing from Miami.
Once on board, we were greeted and provided with a small life jacket for our 16 month old daughter. We went our room which was very clean, and well maintained. Our room was a superior balcony room on deck 12. While in our room, we met our room steward, Juliette. While many aspects of this cruise did not live up to our expectations, Juliette was well above our expectations and continued to impress us throughout our vacation.
The ship itself was very well maintained and absolutely beautiful. Crew was observed throughout the ship relentlessly cleaning the brass, glass, floors etc.
Service - Service was VERY slow inthe IL Palladio dining room. Water was only filled once a night and you would have to ask the waiter several times in order to get more water. It was faster for me to walk up to the buffet and get my own water. My daughter has a dairy allergen which we notified our waiter. Every night we reminded him of the allergen yet he continued to bring dishes with cheese. One night our waiter argued with my wife after we asked for pasta but instead received rice. The waiter insisted the rice was pasta but then admitted they did not have pasta.
My mother in law has mobility issues and needed a wheelchair to navigate the ship. With a baby and wheelchair, my wife was pushing her mother back to the room. Three crew members watched as my wife attempted to move the room steward clean supplies from the hallway that blocked their path. One crew member walked by and did not stop until my wife asked if he could help. His response â€œAm I supposed to help you?â€ The staff members for the most part were very unwelcoming. The only exception was the treatment provided to my daughter. All staff members went out of their way to help my little one in any way. I think the dining room staff was trying to do their best but it was evident they were understaffed and overworked. One word to describe the service on MSC is disorganized.
MDR â€“ Food was mediocre at best and service as stated earlier was horrible. Desserts were by the far the worst Iâ€™ve experienced on a cruise line. The pasta with meat sauce would have been better done by Chef Boyardee. The steak on the first night was the only good steak on the entire cruise. We showed up late one night for dinner as my daughter was having a tough day. The maÃ®tre D approached us and said that if we are not there on time that we would not be served. My wife tried to explain the him that we did not want our toddler to disturb others and his response was â€œ I donâ€™t need an excuse.â€
Room Service â€“ Did not use.
Buffet â€“ The selection was great but again most food was mediocre at best. The exception was the chicken wings, pizza, and hamburgers were really good.
Pools - The pools were nice and the hot tubs were very relaxing. The pool decks were busy on sea days but we always managed to find a place to settle down.
Entertainment - The entertainment range really never changed. The themes changed but the acts remained the same; Dancers, and singers in a different costumes. The acrobats were outstanding and talented. On this cruise, we found ourselves very bored. There was a lack of activities during the day and very few venues for entertainment. Sure there they hard their bars, but they had the same singers every night. One of the singers who played the guitar sang the same songs every night. Cobus was a good cruise director and should go places with MSC.
Announcements - The only announcements were the imperative ones and yes in many languages. The shows always started with an explanation from Cobus who speaks English and a translation from Anna Warner in multiple languages. It never bothered us but many people became annoyed with the multi-lingual announcements.
There was an older crowd but all were very respectful. Most passengers adhered to the dress code of the gala night.
Nassau â€“ Not a big fan but it was a relaxing day.
Bermuda - Self-tour. In Bermuda, we bought the ferry/bus passes, and they were the best way to get around. We hired a taxi driver in Hamilton who took us the aquarium for my daughter. The aquarium was beautiful as was the entire Island.
Embarkation: This was the slowest and worst Iâ€™ve seen in nine cruises. Again, MSC was very disorganized. We were supposed to be off the ship at 930 AM but did not get off the ship until 1100 AM.
Caution: The elevators did not give much time for ingress and egress. There were multiple passengers on board who received injuries from the doors closing on them. My daughterâ€™s hand was one of them when her hand got stuck in the door. Thankfully the extent of injury was minor but some passengers were not as lucky.
While the experience was not as bad as some of the reviews we read, it was clearly not up to the level of any of our pervious cruises. This was a destination cruise as we always wanted to see Bermuda. The cruise was adequate but I do not see us using MSC for our future cruises.
I found an itinerary for our annual anniversary cruise that we really liked. It was a 10 day sailing from Fort Lauderdale on MSC Poesia to Bonaire, Aruba, Cartegena, Cristobal, and Falmouth. Out of 72 cruises, we had never been to Bonaire, Cartegena, or Cristobal/Panama Canal.
We had sailed on MSC Orchestra several years ago with a group of agents, and while many did not, my wife and I really enjoyed MSC. Yes, it is focused on an international crowd, not particularly North Americans, but we found many dance venues each evening on the Orchestra and wanted to try it again. Besides, as past passenger (although it took a long time to get MSC Club numbers) we got a 5% past pax discount.
We were midships on deck 11 in a balcony, and it was convenient, as the nearby midships elevator went down to the areas where the lounges were, and the aft elevator to the buffet area. More than enough storage for two people, and the beds were great. No thick duvets, but I don't like duvets as they are too warm for me.
Each evening the shows were at 6:30for those with 8pm dining. Shows were about 35 minutes on average, and they were absolutely great. We went to every one except one night when it was just classical music. The dancers were terrific and the singers, soloist, superb. They mixed in some acrobats and aerial performances during the shows. Every show was different and unlike the typical cruise ship showtimes. Outstanding.
We found two lounges with 2 or 3 musicians each, and a solo acoustic guitarist in the wine bar. They played very danceable music, from the 40's to 90's in one, a duet, and the other tended to involve the ship entertainment staff, but did have samba, salsa and more. The bartenders recognized us by the second night when we'd arrive for cocktails and dancing before dinner, and had my martini and my wife's prosecco a glass of ice water ready promptly. After dinner we often returned to dance some more.
I've heard people in the past complain that it is all Italian food, but while Italian is always available on this Italian owned line, it is just an option. We had leg of lamb, osso bucco, chicken marsala, prawns, lobster, salmon, tilapia, dorado, and more. Chicken or cornish hens were available. Steaks were always available, but I was NOT impressed with the steaks. It was the same cut served under a variety of aliases and not great, but cooked right. The appetizers were varied and very good, as were the salads. Soups were so, so. Every night they had a sugar free desert option, but the baked alaska was one of the best we have had. Missed creme brulee, but wasn't disappointed in the choices. Breakfast buffet had freshly fried eggs, but no omelettes to order, but they did have omelettes on the buffet line. Great pastry choices. I never had trouble finding seating in the buffet. We ate breakfast in the dining room twice, as that was the only place to find lox and bagels. As I did last time, I enjoyed the pizza available on the buffet 12 hour a day.
They don't offer beverages in the theater. Service was very good in the buffet, and the lounges. Numerous staff from Bali, and far less East European or the Philippines than other lines. The dining room service was slow, and they never asked if we wanted more bread, or coffee, etc. Considering we were near the Captain's table, I would have expected better waitstaff. The Asst maitre de' or head waiter visited our table every night.
When I wanted a bottle of prosecco for the room, we just purchased it at the bar and took it to the room. They offered a wine package that provided 10 bottles of wine to choose from a list for onlye $183.99 if booked online before the cruise, or $199 if purchased onboard. We enjoyed several excellent Italian wines, some Australian, and a few American ones. Cocktails were moderately priced, $7.25 for a cocktail....much less than other cruise lines.
Yes, announcements were in English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian, but they were infrequent....and none were promoting bingo, fortunately. Even the intro to the shows was multilingual, with the Cruise Director doing all but the English (which she could speak fluently), and the Asst Cruise Director (from South Africa) doing the English. TV had CNN International and Headline News Network, and movies in several languages. TV also had for fee movies available.
All ports were pierside, so no tendering issues. In Bonaire I had booked a private snorkeling tour and in shallow water saw tarpon, bonefish, and many others.
In Aruba we booked a terrific snorkeling excursion through Shore Excursion Group: The Antillia Shipwreck Sail and Snorkel Trip Taxi to the Hyatt Hotel at Palm Beach and a dingy out to the catamaran. Water was really clear over the wreck, with lots of fish, and a reef stop later was not as good. They even provided everyone with a I love Aruba T-shirt.
In Cartagena we exited the terminal and found vendors who were offering a 2 1/2 hour van tour of old and new Cartagena for $20 per person. The new city looks like Miami, and the older city like Old San Juan. They even took us to an emerald museum, and some walking in the old city.
In Cristobal we had booked an MSC tour, about 10 hours, a transit of the canal by ferry. We were bused to a landing in Gatun Lake, and then sailed through the San Miguela and Miraflores locks into the Pacific. We bused back to the ship. Great trip, but HOT. Some of the ferry was airconditioned, and they included a Panamanian Lunch. A great tour guide, who has lived her life in Panama, but is from Pennsylvania.
In Falmouth we just did the MSC excursion, Chukka Beach Break: a van ride to a nearby beach and chair.
Weather was great the whole time. Wifi aboard was faster than any other ship I've been on, and a package of 300 minutes was only $83.99.
We really enjoyed ourselves, and wouldn't hesitate to book MSC in the Western Hemisphere again. We met a number of other North Americans who have booked MSC several times. Kids under 12 sail for just taxes, and kids 12-17 sail for $99 plus taxes. Deposits are just $200 a couple all the time.
Abbolutely fantastic! We have had many pleasant experiences with MSC in the past. They offer great values in the off season. This was first time in there "Yacht Club" this is well worth the cost. If you can afford to, you really shoulde experience the Yacht Club for that ship within a ship.
Well, where do I begin? Having previously sailed on the Windsurf in the caribbean we were a bit apprehensive about sailing on such a large ship. Having read the reviews of the Fantasia we started to worry - but hey don't believe the rubbish reviews it's had! We booked 3 weeks before the cruise and only paid £431 each (cruise only) to sail the Western Med. my only prerequisite was that we didn't have an inside cabin. We were sailing from Barcelona then onwards to Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis then back to Barcelona.
Check in/cabins/public areas/food/atmosphere etc:
We did the web check-in prior to arriving (recommended - you get to check in first!). it took us less than 20 mins to check in and were straight on board by 12.00 noon. Our cabin ended up on deck 12 with an unrestricted balcony view - Fab!! Deck 13 being the only accom deck above us. We couldn't believe it for the price! the cabin was really nice, plenty of room for all our stuff. Lots of wardrobes, drawers, safe, dressing table, sofa etc and chairs and table on the balcony. The bathroomhad lots of towels (changed twice daily), dispensers containing shampoo and body wash. There was a good hairdryer in the drawer also so no need to take one. Bed was very comfy and all the linen lovely crisp and clean. the cabin was spotless and kept that way by our steward. So, no need to bring towels (including pool towels - you check these out each day) shampoo, bodywash or hairdryer (unless you are very particular). There was also complementary toothpaste tubes. We had purchased the Allegrissimo drinks package 166 euros each (both of us had to purchase it) but it ended up well worth it. we kept all our chits for the drinks we bought (cocktails, beers, spirits, soft drinks, water, coffee etc) and we 'spent' 533 euros, so well over what we had paid. You also didn't have to pay the 15% gratuity if you purchased this package. It could end up quite costly if you have to purchase water, cokes etc (all branded) during the day and then a bottle of wine etc and drinks in the evening. the minibar or water in your room is not included in this package, but to be honest we didn't need it and it wasn't worth it. you could get water/drinks with your card and take it wherever you want. so we got bottles for when we went ashore. Prices (if you pay as you go are in the region of (all in euros) : glass of wine 4.50, cappuccino 2.00, large beer 4.90, cocktails 6.25, small bottle water 1.45, bottle wine 20, coke 2.70, fresh juices 3.50 then 15% on top for gratuity). so, it could all add up quickly.
The public areas of the ship are beautiful and this ship is SO clean. there is not a speck of dust or dirt anywhere. they are always cleaning. The clientele was predominantly Italian, French, Russian, Spanish, South American, English and American. It was all very noisy but great with lots of atmosphere. Don't choose this ship if you want a quiet time. There was always things going on, plenty of activities all day and night. there was a show nearly every night in the huge theatre which included a Michael Jackson tribute night which was great. There was bingo before the show if you wanted your chance to win 25,000 euros. the casino was quite big with a nice bar. Now, for all you smokers out there there are plenty of places to smoke. You can smoke anywhere in the casino, parts of the coffee lounge and various other music lounges together with all along the port side of the ship. You are not allowed to smoke on balconies though which was fine. there was always somewhere to go for a smoke! There were 2 gala evenings whilst we were there so if you wanted to dress up you wanted to though it wasn't compulsory. You just couldn't wear shorts in the evenings in the 2 main dining rooms. (it was ok in the buffet). So, basically you could dress up or down and didn't feel out of place either way. There was no need to take a dinner jacket or tie (which some people did) but it wasn't THAT formal if you get my meaning. There were plenty of places to sunbathe (best part was up on deck 15 at the rear (Zen space). This had lots of sunbathing area with plenty of loungers, near the bar, swimming pool, jacuzzis etc. No real need to move - the waiters come to you! and it was only 1 deck down for lunch/afternoon tea etc. I must say that we had one day at sea therefore the whole ship was sunbathing and there were plenty of loungers for everyone.
now the food - you could eat pretty much 24 hours a day. YOu were allocated a restaurant to eat at for breakfast lunch and dinner but it wasn't compulsory to go there all the time. You could go to the buffet instead. Most people ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet then went to their designated restaurant in the evening. There was plenty of choice of food and anyone who says they couldn't find anything to eat or it was bland must be mad. There was always lots of salads, pasta, pizzas, grill meat, ethnic counter (curries etc), chefs specials, bakery everything you could possibly think of. the evening meals in the restaurants were 6 courses long with plenty of choice in each section. If youwere on the drinks package you could also get your drinks in there with no problem. They gave us bottles of wine rather than by the glass when we asked for it. they were also very flexible if we wanted to swap a starter and have it as a main course etc. Also, I asked for cheese and biscuits instead of a dessert and it was no problem. a couple of nights they had displays in there and had us all singing 'Volare' and waving our napkins around - it was really funny. so, not stuffy at all. With the drinks package you could also get ice creams (loads to choose from). the coffee (cappuccinos) were great. Best of all they make fab cocktails (everything you can imagine) even if its not on the list they will make it for you.
I forgot to mention the speciality restaurant - a tex mex. If you wait they put a sign up saying 50% discount if you book for the next evening, as it is a pay as you go restaurant. It isn't expensive anyway, and the drinks are included half price. so starters end up at about 2 euros and a big rib eye steak for 7 euros.
There are lots of pools (indoor and out), jacuzzis etc, water slide etc for the kids so plenty going on, particularly around the main pool area. It's a bit like being at a water park.
there are also a few shops onboard, clothes, duty free (cigarettes are really cheap 59.95 euros for 4 cartons L&M's). perfume (they also sell a small selection of emergency toiletries, sanitary products etc).
Nearly all the staff who served us anywhere on the ship spoke some English (enough to be understood to ask for things or where things were). They all have name badges which also says where they are from which was useful. There was a mixture from Idonesia, Brazil, eastern europe, Italian and most anywhere else you could think of. They were all very polite and efficient -so the standard of service was great. we didn't have to wait long for anything.
There is a daily service charge of 7 euros per person per night which goes towards the tips for staff and appears on your bill at the end. I believe that you can have this taken off if you really thought it was rubbish but I can't see how anyone would do so as the service is excellent and remember there are hundreds 'down below' who you never get to see but make sure everything runs smoothly.
Our ports of call:
Here I am not going to give you our impressions as I think you can make your own mind up about that, but more about where the ship docks, how you get to the places etc. This is what I was trying to find out before I went with difficulty. Because the ship is so big it docks in commercial ports which means you can, in some places, be quite a way from the town/sights and it's too far to walk, so here you go...
We embarked in Barcelona and got straight on the ship so more about there later....
We set sail and woke up in Marseille. At the port we were off quickly and there was tour buses (City sightseeing tours - hop on/off type). Though where the ship docks it was close enough to walk into the main part (marina and streets surrounding the harbour).
Next stop was Genoa. There were City sightseeing tour buses right outside where you walked out of the terminal building so you don't really need to get a taxi to get into the town. It is within walking distance.
Naples - it is quite a bit away from the town, but like us, most people wanted to go to Pompeii. We booked the tour on the ship which was 51 euros each. this included the bus to pompeii (about 25 mins away), our entrance fee in and a tour guide. We didn't bother going into Naples or to Sorrento as to us many of these towns are very similar. Indeed some people we met did the Pompeii and Sorrento trip and wished they had just done Pompeii because they could have had longer there. When you get to the Pompeii site there are a few stalls, a museum and some cafes etc - though they are expensive (they have a captive audience!). Though there is a shop at the museum and that was quite reasonable for gifts. I think it was worth the ships excursion in this case.
Palermo - we got a sightseeing bus right outside the terminal. YOu got 10% off the price of your ticket if you had already done a trip with them in another place - you just show them your ticket. Palermo has some nice buildings and architecture, but it is dirty, noisy and to be honest I wouldn't go there again.
La Goulette (Tunis):
Now believe it or not this was probably the most structured in terms of transport away from the port. The ship moors right up to the purpose built small terminal building. Awaiting you are some camels that you can pay to have your photo on walking beside the ship. There are 3 main areas to visit - Carthage, Medina (shopping - souks) and Sidi Al Bouid. There is a taxi rank where the prices are shown and are set. So for two trips (we went to Carthage and Sidi village) it was 40 euros for the taxi not per person and you could have the driver up to 5 hours (he waits for you wherever you go). It can be economical to share if you can with other people). Our driver took us to Carthage and paid for us to go in the museum (we gave him the money 10 euros as he paid in Tunisian money. It was probably a lot more than what he paid but it saved us the hassle of changing our money then changing it back again as you can't take their currency out of the country. In any case you can use euros in most places. Our driver took us all over the place where there were other ruins so we could get out have a look and take photos etc. He brought us back to ship with plenty of time to spare.
Finally... Barcelona. We were off the ship by 0930. You have to be out of your cabin by 8.00am. Our flight wasn't until 9.00pm so we had all day to kill with our luggage. As you come through the terminal building there is a kiosk next to the baggage carousel called DW. you can leave your luggage with them (9euros per bag) and they will deliver it wherever you want (airport etc). they tag up your bag, give you a receipt and instructions where to collect and a phone number. they arrange a time with you, then you can go off. we opted to have our bags delivered to the airport. YOu have to meet them outside arrivals at terminal 1 at the specified time in the parking across the road. they have a distinctive van (though they turned up in a UPS van for us). all our luggage was there on a trolley with the chap from the kiosk ready for us to go. it was WELL worth it.
anyhow.. Barcelona. The terminal is quite a way from the centre itself but as you come out there is a shuttle bus (on the left hand side when you come out the door where the coaches are). It is the port bus. It was 3.50 euros one way and it drops you off by the big statue at the bottom of La Rambla (by the marina). it is easy then to walk up into where everything is going on. Be prepared to have your walking shoes on! or you can take the easy option and get the tour bus (hop on/off) though there is still lots where you will want to get off and walk. We went all around the Plaza Catalunya, gothic quarter, Port Vell etc.
well, I think that is about all I can tell you about our trip on the MSC Fantasia. Would I travel with MSC again - definitely. and, for those of you who have kids they go free (think it's under 14). For the price we paid even with our flights and drinks package I though it was a bargain particularly with the upgrade of cabin for free.
We are off on a Carnival cruise over Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean - so fingers crossed!
We just returned from a Yacht Club (YC) cruise on the MSC pDivina. If cruising regularly this is the only way to travel. We had a Butler who was extraordinary. His name KAMIL . This man was at our beck and call all our waking hours and with a SMILE from his heart. Now I will say the Yacht Club was not filled to capacity so he only had few guests to handle on this voyage. We requested coffee and juice at 8AM and you could set BIG BEN by his tap tap at our door everyday. A tray with HOT coffee,warmed milk,fresh squeezed OJ,rolls & buns and fresh fruit and a BIG smile.
The YC has a special pool,bar and restaurant just for YC guests.Yes this is little more pricy but alcohol drinks are free incl.wines by the glass.here is a ex of what we had one evening after having bloody Mary's all day by the pool .We sat down for dinner at 7:30 bottle water poured,followed by several glasses of Prosseco,while we thought about what to order,white wine with the App, salad and pasta course red wine withmeat dish followed by after dinner drks with dessert.We did this every night U can't beat it with a stick.
We found the meals wonderful and as long as U ordered 1 from each choice at the end of dinner you were filled. Some folks complained about "coffee too strong,beef tough,portions too small" I say if you want American coffee and beef don't go to Italy -portions are small they are gourmet - people pay$$$ in the states for this type of food.This is white glove service. My only complaint about YC is U can only get the alcohol drks in the YC bars(2) and The Muse Rest. This policy prevented us from going anywhere else on the Ship (didn't want to spend more$) so we did no shopping on board I heard they had lovely shops. I may have been tempted to buy something!
When you board the Ship U get a YC key there is NO reason why one could not present that key at any Bar or Restaurant on the the Ship for the same choices given at the YC bar.THIS IS MY ONLY COMPLAINT. It was a fabulous vacation with SPECIAL thanks to KAMIL.
I was totally disappointed
1. I booked an aurea suite which costs twice as a balconi room. For me and anybody else a suite is an accomodation with two different areas: a living room and a bedroom,everything else can be called a junior suite or a large room.
Msc at the beginning of their brochure shows a real suite but then l ater on changes the names and talks about corner suite.i was innocent and let my travel agency make the booking.
What i got was a room basicallly the same as a normal room but hear this i could not open the window,so for the honor of having what they call a suite i had no balcony.i feel completely deceived and i think that msc should not be allowed to do this.
DONT RENT AUREA SUITES IF YOU DONT WANT TO FEEL LIKE A FOOL.
2.dont try to have breakfast after 07:30 you will not find a place to seat,same applies to lunch after an excursion,or to find a sunbed when everybody is board.
3. We bought the allegrissimo premium drinks program,which in theory gives you free everything,beware we paid 42per afdult and i think 18 per child.we were 6 adults amnd 4 children so make your calculation, surprise at the end you have to pay an additional fee per person per day for the pleasure of having bought the program.why doesnt msc charge from the beginning the total?
They give you the impression it is cheaper and then hit you.
I am sure they will be happy to hear that i will never use them,and i tell you the larger the ship the better for them but it is worst for you. I want to add that from the moment i saw the room i went to the reception to complain i asked to see a manager which i finally saw 48 hours later, she was polite but of no use,as an alternative they offered me a normal room which costs half the suite.
My wife and I have been on about 16 to 17 cruises. We have never had any real issues until we boraded the MSC Poesia. To start with the ship is not layed out in any order so shopping was very difficult. When we would leave the ship for shore excursions we had to make a round about way to get off instead of the direct way. Since my wife is handicaped it was not easy for her. BUT the real problem was the food. At breakfast the eggs tasted like water, bacon undered cooked, Juices had been watered down, and tea glasses the size of 2 swallows They wanted you to buy a large glass. The menu was the same almost every day.Don't waste your time or money it was not worth the effort. Go with another line there are good ones out there and you get your moneys worth.
MSC POESIA Eastern Caribbean Cruise Feb. 18 - 25, 2012 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
Frequently, in various ports, we have seen the Mediterranean Shipping Company's (MSC) beautiful ships. However, this was our first cruise on one of them, the MSC Poesia. We had attempted a few times to book a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony on this ship, but without luck until now. We are always seeking new cruising experiences, and now we have had the pleasure of cruising Mediterranean style. Thanks to Hotel Director Neven Zdunic and his assistant Mandy Leigh Castle and the two very interesting books they provided us with, we are able to give some pertinent background on this line and its founders.
Commander Gianluigi Aponte's grandfather Luigi Aponte, a venerable sailor, won the 50th Edition of the Italian Unification Trophy, so sailing is in this family's blood. The love of the sea and ships has been passed down for generations. In 1970 the Commander founded the MSC Fleet and it has become the second largest container transportation company in the world. Today, there are two divisions of MSC: the Cargo sector headed by Diego, the Commander's son; andthe MSC Cruises (1987) headed by Alexa, the Commander's daughter. Of prime interest to us is the MSC Cruises which accommodates millions of passengers, sailing from five different continents on more than one dozen ships.
The first liner fleet included the MSC Monterey, the MSC Achille Lauro, the MSC Symphony, the MSC Rhapsody and the Flagship the MSC Melody, which was proclaimed "the most beautiful ship in the world" in 2000.
EMBARKATION Pier 4 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL is a very small area near the Princess Pier. Even though we did not have our luggage tags prior to departure, they were tagged by the porters and arrived very efficiently in our stateroom. Check in was simple and speedy, since priority is given to wheelchairs. Upon entering the ship, passengers are greeted by a long line of cabin boys at attention. They take hand luggage and escort passengers to their cabins, how elegant, just like the golden era of famous "Blue Riband" passenger liners.
THE SHIP The MSC Poesia is designated Keel S32 , designed by De Jorio International of Genoa and built in Aker St. Nazaire Shipyards, France. Embedded in her keel are two gold coins: one from the Aponte family and one from the ship builders, as a tribute to their collaboration. The Poesia is 964 ft. long, 106 ft. wide, her draft is 26 ft. and she weighs 92,400 tons, with a cruising speed of 23 knots. She has 1,275 cabins and 72,000 sq. ft. of Public Areas. Sophia Loren is Godmother of the MSC Fleet and christened the Poesia April 8, 2008 in Dover, England. Each MSC ship displays on her navy blue funnel the starred rose wind compass once used by ancient mariners.
The Poesia is poetry in motion. This extravagantly decorated ship evokes memories of last century's liners (circa 1960s) where modern art intersected with furnishings. The many armless contour chairs throughout the ship and the bold use of repetitive geometric patterns create the feeling of moving in a modern art museum. Yet, the natural lines of the Zebra Lounge on Deck 6 are welcome. Moreover, this lounge is reminiscent of the Zebra Room of the elegant Olympia ship, on which Vincent in the spring of 1956 made his first transatlantic voyage, from Napoli to New York. What follows is a deck by deck description of the 13 Public Decks which are all named after famous Italian Poets.
Decks 1 through 3 are non public areas.
Boccaccio -- Deck 4, at mid ship and prow are the accesses to tenders, aft is the galley.
Petrarca -- Deck 5, from mid ship to forward are all passengers' staterooms and the Medical Center. Mid ship are Le Rendez-Vous Reception Desk and bar, then the Foyer and aft is Le Fontane Restaurant. The Foyer is three decks tall with clean modern lines shiny brass rails and glass etched to simulate ocean waves. It also has the ubiquitous starlight ceiling found throughout the ship.
Dante -- Deck 6 is all passenger areas, forward is the Teatro Carlo Felice; toward mid ship is the Poker Room, Zebra Lounge, duty free shops and boutiques and aft is the Palladio Restaurant (with a picture of the Venetian villa, Palladio's "La Rotonda").
Manzoni -- Deck 7, forward is the theater balcony, then toward mid ship is the Casino Royal, the Library with fine wood and comfortable leather chairs, then there are the Sushi Bar, Cyber CafÃ© and the Photo Arcade. Perhaps the most elegant and interesting place on board is "Il Grappolo d'Oro" Wine Bar with its two arcades of wine history and informative vetrines. The 89 or so larger than life sepia photos of life at the end of 19th century documenting the vinous cycle and those people who participated in wine making are enthralling. But, alas there were no identifying plaques. Perhaps this display was meant to symbolize all vineyards of yesteryear. In the second corridor are a series of massive wooden tables surrounded by substantial black leather chairs. The combination screams solidity as does the elaborate curved bar.
Tasso -- Deck 8, Ungaretti -- Deck 9, Carducci -- Deck 10, D'Annunzio -- Deck 11 and Leopardi -- Deck 12 are all passengers' staterooms. Most are outside cabins, 1000, with only 275 inside cabins. There are 17 wheelchair accessible (12 inside, 2 ocean view and 3 balcony).
Foscolo -- Deck 13 (yes, unlike most other lines the MSC has a Deck 13) forward is the MSC Aurea Spa, toward mid ship are the Pirana Bar, the Coral Bay Spa and pool area, and the Cayo Levantando Pool Area. Aft is the Villa Pompeina Cafeteria with Pompeian art work reproduced on canvas screens. All the way aft is L'Obelisco Ristorante (a la carte).
Pascoli -- Deck 14 forward has cabins. Mid ship is the jogging track and aft is the youth area with Disco, Virtual Games, etcâ€¦.
Alfieri -- Deck 15 forward are suites with balconies and a wheelchair accessible cabin (ours), aft is mini golf and shuffleboard.
Sports -- Deck 16 forward is the Solarium and aft the Sports Center.
This ship is beautifully appointed and very luxurious. The area which needs improvement is in the comfort of the physically challenged passengers. Thresholds should be flat or properly ramped. From our cabin to the dining room, we had 7 thresholds to traverse and each bump causes physical discomfort to anyone using either a wheelchair or walker. The wheelchair accessible cabins, public bathrooms, and egresses to the promenade and the open decks of 13 & 14 need automatic door openers.
There are four sets of elevators/lifts: one forward, two mid ship, and one aft. They are of various sizes and most have narrow doors. The forward set had three small elevators and one, portside near our stateroom, large enough for the wheelchair; we usually waited for this one, rather than brave the others.
CABIN Wheelchair accessible cabin #15025 on Alfieri Deck 15 is forward port side, the first cabin near the elevators. When entering on the left is a long desk/mirrored vanity with six drawers. Next to it is the huge bathroom with a 4'x4' shower with fold away seat. There are safety rails all around. Next is the triple armoire, with two sections for hanging clothes and one section with a private safe and three shelves, then a small mini bar and refrigerator. There is a narrow single chair, armless and one low hassock ottoman.
Straight ahead is the king size bed, flanked by two night stands, each with three drawers and a reading lamp. The dÃ©cor is modern, red carpeting and drapes with black accents. Two huge bolsters are at the head of the bed. Three pictures by Raimondo Briata, dated 2007, decorated the walls. One is titled "Red Rain," the next "Red Sky City," and the third "Flow." The colors complement the dÃ©cor.
There are sliding doors to the huge balcony (20 ft. x 8 ft), which has a rattan set of a table and two chairs. Our fantastic cabin stewards Wayan and Adi added a chaise lounge to it for Vincent. The balcony is covered, providing shade and shelter from the elements. Wayan also procured a small stuffed chair with arms, for our comfort. Alas, no chocolates on the pillows at night.
SERVICE & FOOD This cruise had 2,800 passengers and 980 crew, we were told that 30% of the crew are from the Island of Bali. They were extremely pleasant and polite. Upon arrival on board, the crew was lined up on both sides of the entry in their snappy short jacketed (Bell hop) uniforms ready to escort passengers with their hand luggage to their cabins. This is a nice touch, reminiscent of the Costa lines of last century, and it makes passengers feel pampered. Despite the crew being shorthanded, service was pleasant and prompt.
When contacting the Reception desk, there was a language disconnect at times. For example, we called for breakfast menus for in cabin service -- we were told that they would be delivered the next day. We tried explaining that we wanted the menus tonight for breakfast the next morning. It took three calls to set the message straight, but the menus were delivered to the cabin in fifteen minutes.
The food is excellent on MSC. Normally, we have breakfast in our cabin. Only Continental breakfast is served: rolls, brioche, croissants, toast and cold cereals, fruits, juices, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate (hot chocolate was not on the menu, but we wrote it in and it was delivered). If you want American style breakfast, it is available in the Buffet and the Dining Room.
The Luncheon menu in the restaurant is huge: fried calamari, Greek and Cobb Salads, chicken wings, Italian antipasti, fruit plates, soups, fish, steak and hamburgers. Pasta dishes are also available. Dinner we had at a table for four shared with Henry and Mary Ann from New Jersey. It was always very pleasant and informative, since they had several MSC cruises behind them. We usually judge the food by the quality of the bread: Excellent, well cooked and hot and fresh bread sticks daily.
The piece de resistance in desserts was the Grand Parade of the Baba au rum cakes! Another night there was also a Baked Alaska Parade. Desserts: cannoli, cheesecakes, bread and rice puddings, fruit and cheese plates and ice creams and sherbets.
For us the portion sizes were perfect. We had terrific service in the Palladio Dining Room from Asst. Maitre D' Antonio Ferraiuolo, even to an update on the International Soccer scores (Napoli vs. Chelsea). Our waiter Bobby Kurniawan and his assistant Gede Suardana were quick and efficient -- Great job!''
ENTERTAINMENT This cruise was a special Baseball Greats Invitational. There were Baseball Hall of Fame players who participated in pitching contests, trivia contests, story telling, autograph sessions, question and answer sessions and memorabilia sales.
The Cruise Director Maddy was MC for the shows in the Carlo Felice theater -- a truly beautiful room with deep royal purple seats and excellent acoustics. MSC presented several spectacular shows: "Stars on Broadway" featured Mimma Barra, an excellent soprano, and Giuseppe Fedeli an accomplished tenor. "Follies Barock" was a presentation of the Entertainment Team. Also "Extraordinaire" and "Isha", "Little Italy" and "Sam" featured the MSC singers and dancers.
The buzz on the ship was continuous about the Russian gymnasts and their amazing balancing act, and two other performers -- one on a bicycle and the other with a ladder. All three acts were remnants of old circus days. There were also the usual standards: Captain Raffaele Pontecorvo's cocktail party, Culinary demonstrations by Executive Chef Vincenzo, Wine Tastings, etc., etcâ€¦.
The MSC Poesia is an ebullient ship with many attractions.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 6:00pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. At Sea Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 7:00am Depart 7:00pm Day 5. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm Day 6. At Sea Day 7. Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 10:00am Depart 6:00pm Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 7:00am
DEBARKATION Since both of us have limited mobility, we requested wheelchair assistance for debarkation. A crew member came to our cabin at 8:00am and he accompanied us through a steep gangway to collect our luggage. After passing through customs, our son Marcello picked us up, and we were home in less than half an hour.
SUGGESTIONS Throughout this elegant ship there are varieties of special plants, trees and floral decorations of preserved real foliage which must have been initially beautiful; however, after four long years these decorations look shop worn and battered. In Mary's professional opinion, they should be renewed with more lively ones.
Perhaps an inspection of the ship in regard to wheelchair mobility and access to various places should be conducted with the assistance of a specialist in this matter or by touring the ship in a wheelchair to identify the problem areas which should be made wheelchair friendly. The major problems are thresholds and the lack of automatic door openers in specific access areas.
CONCLUSION This was our first cruise on a MSC ship and it was a nice one. Although we would recommend this ship for the general public, we would not take another cruise with MSC, unless something is done to correct the inconveniences for wheelchair passengers. We hope that, at least for the projected ships, MSC will make them more wheelchair friendly than the Poesia.
We look forward to our next cruise on our old favorite the Grand Princess, March 17th and some future cruises on Princess, RCI and Norwegian Cruise ships, yet to be determined. Happy Cruising!
please read the other reviews. If you want a relaxing holiday do not under any circumstances use this cruise line. Other than the waiters / room staff, the crew are either "that stupid" or seriously dont care. If english is your first language you will be treated as an interloper by the staff and the masses of rude, eastern bloc passengers. Perhaps pushing in and queue jumping should be olympic events! I dont care how cheap it is ( and it wont be after you pay for EVERYTHING) I would rather stay home and give the money to a random religious sect.The man was right, "you get what you pay for". The food is average at best, kids run riot ( remember they travel free). Cabin doors slam and walls are paper thin. Seriously, take ear plugs. Worst holiday ever. Perhaps msc should concentrate on container shipping as the level of service may just pass muster there.
Review of our 11 Day Cruise on MSC Poesia.
To begin My daughter Celeste and I drove my car, with Scooter in trunk, On Novermber 26 to one of my other daughters home in Pompano Beach. She drove us then to the port where we boarded the Poesia. By arrangements she will pick up on December 6 after we disembark. Good thing to have kin folks spread around. Other members of another daughter, who lives in Taveras, rode in a bus for 6 hours. Not too good. She said next time she will drive.
We passed through emigration and check in with flying colors. Good to have my scooter so we used the handicap lanes to our advantage.
Our Cabin: We had a balcony cabin towards the bow of the ship. Nice cabin but we had to rearange the furniture so I could get the scooter in each nite for battery charging. So we put on the twins against the head wall and the other across the other wall. This left a passageway of about 4 feet adequate for my scooter to pass thru. Good arrangement and the Cabin Stu wentalong with it. The cabin was very nice but the balcony was very narrow. Only about 4 feet deep. But we got along very well.
Food: I was disappointed with the dinning room food Not up to par IMO. One steak was not good and sent it back. The service was also not up to par. Too long between servings. I blame this on the Galley not the waiters. We were allowed to make daily coments about the food and service each day. Some comments were not to good but other times it was OK. At least we did not starve.
Intertainment: There were several acts that was excellent. But the Production events were not as good as other cruise lines were.
Interior of the Ship: IMO it was excellent. Very colorful and oddly arranged and nice. Got lost several times but that did not matter because we had 10 full days. The Show Room had a very bad safety hazard. There was not a hand rail going down the steps in the room. I wrote this up on my survey and recommended they install rails. I watched, especially the elder folks walking down and they had to hold onto the back of the seats to keep from falling
Excursions: I did not go any excursion. Celeste went on one in Jamacia. She took the Zipline one and had a very good time. There was 12 platforms they had to use two longs ones and the rest were short. They had to propell themselves to get upon each platform. Took a lot effort but she made in flying colors. There was one guy 81 years of age. He had a very difficult time so she said. Other ports we went into town and messed around, me with my scooter.
Itin: Almost forgot. We were on he Carib cruise visiting Curacao, Aruba, Cartagena, Panama and Jamacia. We had a very good time..