MSC Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Category: Mainstream

Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.

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MSC Cruise Ships

3 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.

12 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. Families. Value for Money.

3 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.

28 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.

4 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

21 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

15 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.

16 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
3.45
from 120 reviews

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User Reviews

120 User Reviews of MSC Ships
Divina Transatlantic November 2013
Publication Date: November 30, 2013

Divina Transatlantic cruise Venice to Miami November 2nd 2013

This was our third cruise with MSC in Twelve months and our second transatlantic, despite all the issues with MSC since booking way back in early January we had high expectations of the Divina which is basically a stretched Musica class ship.

Embarkation.

We arrived at the port of Venice at around 11-45am handed over our cases and went upstairs to find one area to our right very crowded and one to our left where people were in queues waiting for the check in desks.

MSC club said that there was preferential check in at Venice for Silver, Gold and Black card members (this has now been removed from the current club member benefits) so we went over and asked one of the staff who told us it was for Gold and Black card members only, we took ourselves over to one of the information desks and asked the same question and were then lead to a separate area and were on the ship within twenty minutes. For some reason it had been decided that Credit card details would be obtained on the ship

rather than at check in and it was left to passengers to go to customer service to register their card. Once again we were never required to fill in a health questionnaire.

We headed up to our room which was a Balcony on the back of the ship on Deck 10, the cabin was similar to the one we had on Poesia the year before but slightly larger with a Balcony of some Fourteen feet in length that contained two chairs and a table as well as two sun loungers, the bathroom has two opening doors to the shower rather than a curtain which was great. Wardrobe space again was similar to Poesia with a three-door robe one containing the safe and draw storage space; there is also a 2 drawer bedside cabinet on each side of the bed and two on the vanity unit. The Fridge is also housed in this unit with the TV and a shelf above.

The furniture is a dark walnut colour whereas the Poesia had been a much lighter material, we found the bedside lamps were a little to dull for reading with the main lights switched off. Red carpet and Bed headboard covering and two large mirrors, table and two seat settee completed the room.

Our cabin was looked after by Nengah, who did a great job and left a note for me on my Birthday this was unexpected, and a really nice gesture.

We headed up to the buffet for lunch having left our carry on cases in the cabin, after around twenty minutes there was a total loss of power for around five minutes, we have no idea as to why or if it was only the buffet that was affected.

A problem with Deck 12,11 and 10 balconies is that when they wash the large panoramic windows of the back of the buffet on deck 14 these balconies get the water from it so every morning the balcony was wet and stayed that way until the room was cleaned, a further problem is that if they overfill the aft Infinity pool and forget to drain it back before leaving port these three decks get soaked as the ship makes its turns which is due to the water escaping from the contained area.

One of the White shirted crew/officers came to check out the problem and confirmed the water was from the pool but it was never cleared away, a possible design flaw, others on these decks also had to ring customer service about the water issue.

The sliding doors to the balcony cannot be latched while out on the balcony which means that if the ship is rolling from side to side the door slides open and closed with quite a thud, dangerous if you happen to be going in or out and are caught unawares.

For a somewhat new ship this area suffers from a lot of vibration during ship maneuvers being above the propellers and even small sea swells made the rolling of the ship worse, Divina rolls around quite a lot more than a big ship should do and this was noticeable in other parts of the ship.

The sign that tells you that you cannot smoke in the cabin was hidden behind the curtain on the fixed pain of glass, about halfway through the cruise it was moved to the sliding panel after complaints about people smoking on their balconies.

The meet and greets for the roll call were arranged by Ken who worked hard on arranging them and were somewhat interesting and a disappointment, the first one for thirty minutes was attended by Andre who was the new cruise director who was shadowing Maddie who was to leave the cruise once in Miami, I think Andre was taken by surprise at the comments being made. Only water was provided at the meeting.

A second meeting was arranged so that people on the roll call could meet and talk to each other due to the short time of the first one, sadly this clashed with the re arranged time of the world quiz for us, and again I believe no refreshments were provided.

Andre once again attended a third meeting and gave us an insight into how MSC intended to move forward in the Caribbean, the disappointment comes in because there were a host of senior MSC management people on the ship by this time and not one of them could be bothered to grace us with their presence nor any of the ships officers! Once again only water was provided.

We have heard it said before that MSC need to stop thinking of their passengers as Cargo.

Our thoughts on the Divina …

The Divina is a nice very clean big ship but with small areas and what seems to be less space than on the Poesia and it does have some annoying design traits, the Villa Rossa dining room is located on Deck Six at the back of the ship and can only be accessed by Lift or by stairs from Deck Seven, to go from Villa Rossa to say Deck Five you have to go up and across Deck Seven and then down again.

The Atrium of Divina is possibly the best part of the ship in our opinion and looks great and it also looks like where most of the money was spent, especially the staircases.

Public toilets have no Hot water! And most have just two toilets in them, there also appeared to be a lack of them around or close to the Aqua Park.

Pools are Salt water as is the water slide, the Spa area is nice and the staff always greeted you with a smile, you need to watch you do not walk into the tall mirrored glass that are next to the walkway to the sauna, changing rooms and steam rooms which were free to use on this cruise unlike on Poesia last year.

At the bars we had no problem getting drinks although on busy nights in some it can get a little slow with not enough servers. The Jazz bar colour looks as though it has been imported from Costa and is not the usual MSC style, this bar is the only way to go forward to the theatre on this deck even if you come through the sports bar and many times people were walking past right in front of the singers despite the main route being to the left.

There are two rows of three glass mirrors on each side prior to the buffet entry when coming from the lifts on Deck 14, no idea what the reason is for this although the theme of mirrors was replicated all over the ship especially on the staircases.

The Buffet design although light and airy also suffers from lack of walking space between the tables and the food areas, with two of the beverage areas in the worst place possible next to a door leading to and from the kitchen. If you want salad be prepared to walk from one side to the other to get all you need unless you get the prepared stuff in a bowl from near the bar at the main entrance. At the back of the buffet opposite the bar are some bench seats that are not fixed down, be prepared to get stuck in there as we saw one guy did and could only get out when one waiter forcefully pushed the bench away after the people on the other side refused to moved despite being asked by the waiter his wife and four of us sat close by.

Also be aware of the small kids food area with its little plastic railing and entrance frame which one man walked into and knocked over! Not quite sure why he was in the kids food area.

Despite information to the contrary there were some people who still went into the buffet in swimwear and bathrobes!

Hot water for Tea and Coffee is stored in containers and ran out on numerous occasions so you had to wait for a member of staff to change them over or go elsewhere, not sure why they do not have them plumbed in as some other ships are.

The only passageway between the Black and White lounge on Deck Seven to the Theatre without going outside onto the Deck 7 boat deck has the photo shop and cruise pictures which means there is always a bottleneck of people coming from First dinner seating and the Black and White lounge to the theatre going against those heading to Second sitting dinner or coming from the theatre or other bars.

The boat deck may well be a spoiler for some people because apart from a few small areas forward and aft of the lifeboats you cannot stand at the side rail and gaze out to sea due to the design of the lifeboat stowage.

There is very little deck space between the pool and the small stage used by the Animation team and for those doing the dance exercises which means you have people dancing in between the sun beds around you. On Deck 15 there is very little room between the two rows of sun beds in many areas and people are constantly falling over them or kicking them as they go by, this area is also used by those jogging or walking.

We did not have any problems finding a sun bed during the whole cruise.

The Black and White lounge is the biggest lounge on the ship but is way too small for the number of people who wanted to use it and also had a lack of seating, it also possibly has the most uncomfortable and worst seats of the whole ship.

The theatre is a mix of Red seating and Silver paneling and poor lighting on the stage that made it difficult at times to see what was going on during the shows some of which were the same ones from the year previous on Poesia. On the nights we visited the theatre it was never full.

Anyone hoping to get to the front of the Divina for a view will be disappointed as this space is taken up by the Yacht club which houses around 4% of guests on the whole ship.

Shops …

The ship has the usual range of shops like the Logo shop, wristwatches and sunglasses, jewelry and handbags and duty free.

The Disco appeared to be very under utilized in the evenings on this crossing, maybe it will get more use in the Caribbean.

Food …

This is always a difficult one because what one person likes another one may hate, the buffet food was the same as the previous years repo cruise on Poesia and at times lacked taste and was quite bland, the new size burgers were just meat and no flavour. Offerings for sweets at lunch and dinner were the same for the whole 18 days of the cruise and very unimaginative. The breakfast smoothies were one of the things to look forward to with Mango and Strawberry being our two favorites. Look out for Jennifer at breakfast who will have you one there in no time and they are best mixed by Kevin behind the bar.

The Dining room on the first night was late for second sitting with people going in at 9-30 instead of 9 pm and at 9 pm the next night instead of 8-30 but the following nights seemed to sort themselves out at 8-30. Food in the evening also suffered from up and down syndrome, one-day good the next poor with the odd really good one thrown in, there appeared to be a problem of consistency from night to night. Of the Four Gala nights again it was a case of 1 really good, 1 not bad and 2 poor. Towards the last five nights the Dining room was maybe only half full. Tables in the Villa Rossa dining room were mainly for between 6 and 8 people and it seemed that there were not enough tables for two people. The Majority of people seemed to observe the dress code in the Dining room especially on Gala nights.

The Cold fruit soups were once again one of the best foods served.

Lamb shank one night was a big order by many in both the Black Crab and Villa Rossa; it was also possibly the most returned or left meal due to the meat being tough. The Duck that night also suffered the same fate although later in the cruise the Duck a`lorange was possibly one of the best meals of the cruise.

The steaks went from wafer thin to be replaced mid cruise by decent thick tasty ones although we are still baffled as to how one arrived part well done and part pink inside!

The after dinner sweets were again somewhat lackluster and on a few occasions we headed to the Café Del Doge for the better tasting offerings though there is a charge.

Iced water was served from jugs without being asked for and coffee was available after dinner for those who wanted it.

There were complaints of slow service in some areas of the dining rooms which may have been down to the fact that one kitchen serves one deck of the Black Crab dining room while the other one served the Villa Rossa and the other floor of the Black Crab, it may also be because the assistant waiters are away getting drinks while the waiters are busy doing everything else.

Smoking is allowed on Deck 14 on the port side where you come out of the buffet and the bar with the Gelato is also on this side! A bad move in our opinion by MSC, they should have moved the smokers over to the other side.

Entertainment...

Many of the staff are from Poesia and have worked the Caribbean before, the Animation team lead by Claudio (ex Poesia) with Brendan, Zac, Yves, Sean, Adam, Julio and the others work their backsides off to get people involved in the games but were it seems handicapped by management on this cruise for some reason in the Black and White lounge in the evenings.

The main band (ex Poesia) also seemed to have their hands tied singing the same set in the same order almost every night in the Black and White lounge where 95% of entertainment was dancing.

It would be helpful if before they cruised MSC advised guests that there are to be theme nights on their cruise, Divina had a White party but had to be cancelled on the outside deck due to rain, a smaller version took place inside. Then there was a /60`s/ 70`s/80`s night which was the actual dress code for that night along with a Carnival and Red White and Green night.

There were Four Gala nights onboard, Two casual, a 60/70/80`s, Green White and Red, Carnival, Casual or White and Eight Informal.

The water slide was available for anyone to use despite a sign saying teens only and we made full use of it on a few days, the 4D cinema was good though a cost is incurred of $7 per film, the F1 racing simulator costs $9 a go, the Shuffleboard court yes just the one is virtually unusable when there are sun beds on either side and also the entry canopy to the Top18 solarium ($10 a day for a sun bed) at one end. Surely someone must have noticed the issue of putting the court there?

During the Five day sea crossing with no satellite signal MSC announced that the pay films would be available for Free, what they failed to say was the system was only able to accommodate 500 TV’s and each day the system crashed. They were upgrading the system with the new TV programmes as we sailed to Miami from San Juan that meant a visit to every TV on the ship to re programme them all.

Cruise cards seemed to be a problem this year for some reason and between us we had them replaced 11 times for various reasons including bar machines not reading them and failing to open the cabin door, plus the original ones not having the drink package code on them. Other people we knew onboard had similar issues with their cards.

Customer Service Desk …

Very helpful staff although it did take Four visits over Six days to get the first days bar charges taken off our account due to not having the drink package code on our original sea pass cards.

Ports Visited …

Malta way too short only around Five hours, Malaga 5 1/2 hours, Madeira Full day, St Maarten Full day, St Thomas Full day for some due to US immigration, San Juan Full day.

Getting off the ship at a few of the ports was a scrum at times because only one exit was used which was off the Atrium and having so many people in such a small space looked like disorganised chaos.

Cruise highlights …

The Ports visited, the best theatre show that we saw was Wonderland.

Meeting many of the crew from the Poesia again especially Wayan our waiter from last year, Claudio from the Animation team, Sylvia in the Bacco bar and all the others. Meeting those roll call members we had chance to along with many others, taking part in the various quiz rounds and games. Visiting the two remaining ports on the itinerary that we had not been to, a visit to the everglades and our two days/nights in Miami despite the storm on the last night, meeting Police Officer Sergeant Bello of the Miami Beach police department who was one of the officers keeping an eye on the two buildings being built on South beach for an Art exhibition.

Cruise Lows …

The big one of losing a port day and arriving a day early in Miami for an advertising day by MSC just so the Divina could be the only ship in port on the 19th of November! Not what we paid for and being fed a constant stream of excuses as to why it was being done, the worst of all making out that it was so passengers could enjoy an “Exciting†day in Miami! Many of who had already made plans to stay for 2 or more days already. Plus there were people on the ship who live in Miami and Florida.

Some Theatre shows were the same as the Poesia repo cruise last year but with different singers and dancers who were not as good, very much the same menu and food as last year with a few changes. The Captain and Hotel Manager were also from the Poesia along with Cruise Director Maddie.

Disembarkation …

We were told by staff that around 1500 passengers got off the ship on the 19th rather than stay on an extra night. You have to vacate the cabin by 7am.

We will never understand the Italian way of organization of sending people to the farthest point when there is a shorter route, being on the back of the ship our allocated lounge was the theatre!

We queued at the gangway exit for around Thirty minutes during which point people were told that there was an issue with the elevated walkway! The very same one that had been used all the previous day and night and was being used by the people in front of us who had already left the ship.

The real reason was the slow baggage handling that was going on down below us, have these people learned nothing ? Tell people the Truth of what is happening and stop making up stories in order to cover up the problems.

Having left the ship with other people we had sailed with last year we headed to the baggage claim area which was three halls with a conveyor belt unlike most other places we had been to where cases are stored in their respective colours tag wise and you go and collect them.

The bags came through very slow and we waited around sixty minutes for ours, one German man had been waiting over two hours! Others waited longer.

Conclusions …

We would count ourselves as liking big ships over small ones having sailed the Oasis, Mariner of the seas and Ruby Princess and while many people will like Divina for various reasons we cannot see ourselves traveling on any of the other three Fantasia class ships of MSC. One reason being that there is no access to the front of the ship other than for those staying in the Yacht club.

The Musica class of which Poesia belongs in our opinion has more wow factor than the Divina and has better-allocated space; any future cruises with MSC will likely be on this class of ship.

To quote one lady who has been on all the MSC class of ships including twice on Divina, “Divina is all show and no substance†her preferred ship is the Sinfonia.

Any cruise day at sea is always better than a day at work and some cruises are more memorable than others, sadly this cruise will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

After three cruises we are able to say that MSC although only being Twelve years old and young in terms of cruising compared to the likes of Carnival etc have a good product but it is let down by inconsistency in food in various areas and poor management especially those of the land based operations.

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Cruising the Med
Publication Date: July 26, 2013

We are experienced cruisers over the last 20 years, having had an enjoyable cruise with MSC in the past we decided to sample MSC Splendida. We booked a Yacht Club suite and looked forward to being pampered,unfortunately this was not the case!

Service was poor from our steward, sorry our Butler who failed to introduce himself and was only seen when the cabin sorry again suite was cleaned. Service and the cabin 5/10.

Food was very average,drinks poorly mixed that's when you can find somebody to serve you 5/10

We did have a unfortunate experience when on a excursion resulting in 21 people submitting complaints....no response from the guest relations manager on board not interested, we all submitted written complaints to HO no response since June.

Overall the bottom line is would we cruise with MSC again? No the line is not for us.

The ship was spotless, and fellow passengers great.So we made the best of a bad lot and enjoyed the company of fellow cruisers.

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MSC Poesia Review
Publication Date: July 2, 2013

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 Poesia’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 in

the 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 “Am I supposed to help you?†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.

Dining:

MDR – Food was mediocre at best and service as stated earlier was horrible. Desserts were by the far the worst I’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 maître 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 “ I don’t need an excuse.â€

Room Service – Did not use.

Buffet – 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.

Fellow Passengers:

There was an older crowd but all were very respectful. Most passengers adhered to the dress code of the gala night.

Ports :

Nassau – 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 I’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 daughter’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.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 1, 2012

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 6:30

for 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.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 16, 2012

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.

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Western Mediterranean
Publication Date: September 21, 2012

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 bathroom

had 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!

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: September 7, 2012

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 with

meat 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.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: August 11, 2012

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 42

per 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.

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Bahamas
Publication Date: February 28, 2012

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.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 18, 2012

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; and

the 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 Café 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, etc….

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 décor 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 décor.

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., etc….

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!

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