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.
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!
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..
Very disappointed in cruise. Most cruises are known for their food and this one is definitely not. For an Italian Cruise Line, the pasta was over cooked and rubbery. The steaks were either overly fatty or very tough. On formal night they had Fillet or Lobster choice, we had both. The fillet (Medium Rare) should cut like butter or close to it. You had to saw your meat and chew it forever. They will not give you drawn butter with your 1/2 tail of a lobster which was also overcooked and bitter tasting. The desserts - many were pre-made out of box. I saw one day them pulling out Eclairs from a container and they tasted just like the frozen ones from Costco. Their chocolate sauce was squirted out of a "generic" brand bottle. The breakfast buffet was awful. Had some fresh fruit but the pineapple came out of a can. It is crazy busy with passengers and very rude passengers that would constantly cut into line in front of you. If you have the time, eat breakfast in the dining room. More calming and you can order omelets. Thesoups and sauces they used had no zing to them. Very blah. Food overall disappointing.
If you eat your meals in the dining room - and you only speak English, be ready to be very patient and keep your fingers crossed that you get what you order. I wanted grapes for my boys (which I got before at another breakfast) but he brought Grapefruit. The wait staff's English is very poor overall. Our dinner waiter kept apologizing because he knew his English was so bad. He at least tried - the breakfast and lunch staff didn't even try.
The ice cream was good in the dining room. Every night they had a flavor of the day. Free Ice Cream on the pool deck too all day.
Wait & cabin steward staff was nice but no nice towel animals or personal touches on the cruise. Like chocolates on your pillow at night.
When we left the cruise at the port terminal we had help with our luggage the lady asked how the cruise was and we said not soo good. She said she has heard lots of people complaining about it. We also meet 3 girls from Germany that we shared an excursion with in the Bahamas. They had the same thoughts on the cruise.
If you have kids under 3 - you can't participate in any of the children activities even if you are there.
Entertainment was ok - only had 2 people that sang so you got tired of listening to the same thing every night. It became a joke - here she comes again. The girl sang 80% of the time.
Highly recommend looking at other cruise lines before booking on this line. I only recommend this to someone you don't like.
Good things about the cruise....fast elevators, nice towels, good ice cream. Energenic entertainment team.
We recently cruised with MSC cruises for the first time and it will definitley be the LAST!! The itinerary was satisfactory and the cruise ship was acceptable. However, the food was horrible! It was equal to school cafeteria food!!I have been on several (10 or more) cruises and never had such horrible, inedible food. The only good news is that I lost weight! There are NO free beverages, except at breakfast and water which is so sparcely given out that you'd think it was liquid gold! You have to purchase a costly beverage package before boarding in order to have decent drinks.
You are nickled and dimed to death. The matches for cigars even cost extra, according to our dinner mates.
As far as tours, they are cancelled frequently and take forever to be organized. You lose the time that is paid for in advance because of the incompetences of the cruiseline. In the casino, I did not receive full credit on a ticket voucher from the machine when attempting to cash it and was told that the cashier did not have coins for change!! The nightly entertainment was lame with the sameperformers in different scenarios with a different twist from the night before. The midnight buffet had one serving line for the entire ship.
Needless to say, we were very dissapointed with this line and will not even consider sailing with them again. If you are thinking about sailing in the Scandanavian waters, think of Costa or any other line beside this one, I now wish that I had!!
This was our 17th cruise, and we've been on all the major cruise lines except Costa, from 3 star to 5 star ships, and never had a cruise we weren't glad we took. We picked this cruise because it hit 2 ports we hadn't been to, it was a new ship, and the price was good.
We booked a category 2 (inside) several months before the cruise, and about a month before the cruise the price dropped $140pp. Often when this happens the cruise lines will offer early bookers some compensation to reward and encourage early bookings, like shipboard credits, refunds, and free upgrades. We asked our TA to call MSC and see what they would do. They told our TA they would not offer any immediate compensation, but they would put us on a "courtesy upgrade" list if we would agree to accept whatever upgrade might occur. Since this was our only option we agreed. Four days before the cruise and no word, so our TA called them and was told that they disqualified us from any compensation because at the time of the price reduction there were no cabinsavailable in our category, what a clever loophole (lots of cat 2's opened up through the month). And then we found out that they had taken our preferred cabin location and given us another one in the same category in a worse location. But they would offer us a balcony for $180pp. To make the best of a bad situation we decided to accept, and when our TA called back they broke their word and said we couldn't have that offer any more, it had to be $300pp. Sounded like they were hustling us with bait-and-switch like a car lot, we'd had enough, and said no.
So there was no advantage in booking early with MSC, no compensation for a price reduction, and you're better off sitting on your money and waiting until you think the price has bottomed out. As a guideline, a month before the cruise the prices had dropped to $399 inside, $519 oceanview, and $659 category 6 balcony in peak season, and stayed there right up to the cruise.
No cruise docs were ever sent to us so we had to find out ourselves which terminal in the port the ship was at (#4) in case the taxi didn't know, we had one once that took us to the wrong ship.Embarkation
If you fly into Fort Lauderdale a cab to the port is $15, and the dispatcher at the a/p expects a tip for loading your luggage into the cab. At the port entrance all traffic is checked and you have to show photo ID before your cab can enter. We dropped our luggage at the ship porters at 12:45 and walked on the ship at 1:10. It would have been maybe 5 minutes quicker if we hadn't discussed the wrong cabin number with them. If you don't want to get stalled lining up for an embarkation photo from the ships photographers there is a little room to bypass them as you enter, walk along the side of the lane and tell people why you are going ahead, some will like the idea and follow you. The embarkation buffet was fine, a bit crowded as you enter as would be expected, just go to the back at the second buffet area and there are lots of tables. Service was great, we were even offered more ice tea and ice water when ours was getting low. Fire muster at 4:30 was the most civilized ever, seated in a cool lounge.The Cabin
Our cabin steward was great, started her off with a tip to keep the ice bucket full and get robes and more hangers, done immediately. The cabin is small, rated at 141 square feet, compared to CCL and HAL at around 185 sq ft. It was a quad, don't know how 4 people would manage. You can't open the bathroom door and the closet doors at the same time. Cabin card operates the cabin lights, your steward knows when you are gone and can make up the cabin b/c your card is out of the slot. Shampoo and body wash, no conditioner. Nice shower wand, good pressure and temp control.
The first 2 nights our cabin was noisy, banging and doors slamming, and we noticed a crew work room next to us, so we snuck in to check it out and found 2 service elevators and other equipment, and a nice big door to slam. We told Francesca, the new Customer Service Manager, and she found us a quiet cabin, thanks Francesca. It was a stern cabin, and had some strong engine vibration one night, but not the other nights.
These cabins only have seating for 1, a stool under the vanity. 2 electrical outlets on the vanity, another in the ceiling of the bathroom. Good sized mini-bar to keep your drinks chilled. Good hair dryer.The Ship
As every other review has noted, the ship is beautiful. We liked the atmosphere on the ship, low key, no drink waiters bugging you. Past reports of the crew being rude or indifferent did not fit, they were polite and helpful all week.
The atriums on some ships are very impressive, soaring up many decks with glass elevators rising out of sight, a nice place to have a drink a enjoy the view. The Poesia's atrium is the older traditional lower style, only going from decks 5-7, more room for extra cabins. The promenade shops area is also traditional, shops down hallways instead of the new open street concept.
The configuration of the ocean view cabins surprised us. All the ocean view cabins either have a porthole (cat. 4) or have a window with an obstructed view behind the lifeboats (cat. 5). There are no ocean view cabins with both a regular window and a open view, just tons of higher priced balcony cabins, all the way from deck 8-12. Other newer ships have this same pattern of many balcony cabins, which would increase revenue if they sold them all, and if they didn't sell, they could discount them to the price of an ocean view, so probably nothing lost. But many cruisers only want an outside cabin with a view, and won't take a balcony unless it drops to an ocean view price.
We've never been on a ship on a nice sea day when there have been any loungers available in the pool area after mid morning, and it was the same here, the last ones by the pool were taken by 10am. You have to sign your pool towels in and out from the towel police. We like listening to the bands at the pool, but if you don't need to use the pool or want to listen to a band, there are many open loungers in other areas, go up to the deck above the pool and walk end to end and you'll find tons of loungers. No pool band most days anyway. There are 2 pools, the Coral Bay pool near the entrance to the spa, and the Cayo Levantado near the entrance to the buffet, plus a kids pool on deck 14. Self serve soft ice cream cones at the pool 1-4pm.The loungers are good and bad, the good is they are a nice mesh, no buggy straps, and they have a great adjustable shade to keep the sun off your face, a first on a ship for us. The problem is the backs are short, and won't support your head if you lean back, so you have to scrunch down, but then your feet hang over the end. If you're petit you got it made.
If you don't want to lay in full sun all the time there are a few great private spots near the pool where you can slide your chair in and out of the sun. For the first 2, stand on deck 14 (above the pool), with the giant screen above you and 3 hot tubs below you, and look back in the 2 corners past the staircases by the tinted windows. 2-4 loungers fit nicely there, but you have to drag them in there. And if it's windy you'll be out of the wind. The Solarium sounded spa-ish, but it's just an open deck area with loungers, but no shade or wind protection there. The other nice shady/sunny spots are on either side of the big screen, slightly behind it, you can move your lounger around for sun or shade and adjust to sun movement too. Generally the loungers in front of the big screen don't get wind.
The gym is good, 4 ski motion elipticals and 4 straight ones, several treadmills and bikes, free weights, machines, floor mats, but a water fountain would have been nice. The tennis court is about half size, sort of like platform tennis.
As all ships do, gratuities are added to your ship account, but it's more than the other lines charge, $12/day pp instead of $10. MSC prefers to call it a service charge, and the amount is not published in the daily newsletter, just a small statement a couple times that it will be on your account and not to tip the crew, and that the amount and conditions are in their brochures and web site. So there is no comment that it can be adjusted or cancelled, but when you ask about it you find out there is a 3 hour window the last sea day to do that, held in the DR. The long 20 minute hassles previously reported did not happen, and people were done in a few minutes. No line up around 9-10, just a steady stream coming and going. We asked why the charge was more than other ships, and he said he didn't know. People on our shore excursion who had talked to the crew told us the ship does not give this money to the crew as on other ships. Some crew said they were told it was built into their salary, and others said they got $10 a week. It's supposed to be a secret, and the crew are warned not to discuss it with passengers, and not to accept tips, a lose-lose for them. The ship notice says the procedure is to encourage service excellence, but how a non-merit system does this is a mystery to us. Anyway the whole procedure seems sneaky and underhanded.
Accounting was efficient, there were a few charges on our card that weren't ours which they quickly corrected. You can view your account on the TV the last 3 days, and get a print-out at the desk on days before that. You can also book tours on your TV.
The ship overall: when we evaluate how much we've enjoyed a ship, our method is to think of one (or more) features that were special to that ship and to which we would really look forward to having again, sometimes simple little things. Like the solarium on the Vision, the indoor street promenade on the Mariner, the private upstairs level on the old Destiny lido buffet, Sabatini's alternate restaurant on the Crown, the French and Chinese alternate restaurants on NCL, the private little tables out the back of the buffet on the Century, the big cabins on HAL and CCL. But although the Poesia was lovely we couldn't find a special feature that appealed to us, it was just a pretty ship in the traditional style.The Food
The breakfast buffet was the same as most other ships. There are 2 buffets on each side, and many people stop at the first one as you enter. If you bypass the line and go to the back buffet there are less people and more empty tables. These 2 rear buffets have a few less items than the first ones as you enter (from the pool), like at the back ones there are no pancakes, French toast, waffles, or ready made omelets. And there is no cooked-to-order omelet station at any buffet.
Reports about rude people in the buffet lines was not evident, it was busy as on all ships, and people would reach in for just an item, no problem, or they would enter the line if there was big gap, and it worked fine. Orange and pineapple juice was available at several stations. If you get your food at the first buffet and there are no tables just walk through to the back at the second buffet.
The lunch buffet was also the same as on most ships, interesting selection, no problem finding something that appeals. The open hours change from day to day depending on shore times etc, sometimes it closes at 2:30 and sometimes it's open as late as 5pm, check the newsletter. Free ice tea and ice water, lemonade is $2.
We had all our dinners in the main dining room. We wanted a 2 person table for some private time this cruise, which can't be selected when you book the cruise as usual. So after boarding we went to the meeting room set up to handle dining requests, deck 6 next to the Zebra bar, and were fixed up. We thought the food was about average compared to other ships. There are usually 3 entrée choices on the Italian menu, 4 on big nights, and an American entree on the other side, plus 3 standards that can be ordered any day, beef steak, chicken scaloppini, and salmon. These were generally adequate, and we always ordered an extra entrée different than the first 2 so we'd have an alternate if one didn't appeal. One night it was a bit wanting, the choices were meatballs with boiled potatos, red snapper, and spaghetti with clams. They could throw the first and last one together for a pretty good combo. Another night the 3 choices were swordfish, veal scaloppini, and mini-pasta, with the American alternate being pot roast which was delicious. Swordfish was good too. Loved the cannelloni, Cajun tilapia, prime rib, pot roast, and great lasagna. As a benchmark, we thought the seafood except for the lobster was as good as the Red Lobster chain, but the pasta dishes were not as flavorful as the Olive Garden chain except for the excellent lasagna. Service was efficient, food was never cold.
We pre-ordered the dinner wine package #556, 7 bottles for $67, which has to be done no less than 1 week before the cruise by printing the form on their website and then faxing it to MSC. They sent no confirmation that they received it, but it was processed through our credit card 2 days before the cruise. This package says you get a choice of wines, but you don't, you can have either the house red or white each night. The red is the ship's Italian house wine, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2008, which luck for us we found acceptable. If you wait till you're on the ship to order the package, it's $105, but you get choices, 3 reds from California, 5 whites (2 CA, 2 Italian, 1 German), and 2 roses (1 CA and 1 Italian). If you pre-order, the wine coupons are supposed to be delivered to your table the first night. Ours wasn't there, and fortunately I packed the order form, so I had to go and get it to show the head waiter before getting the wine. They ended up keeping this form, so you might want to black out your credit card number before giving it away, they don't need that info since it's been paid for.
We always select anytime dining on other cruises, and it's always worked out well, short waits for tables. After returning from ports it's usually about 7 by the time we're cleaned up and ready for a drink before dinner, so making the 5:30 time for first seating was quite a rush, and second seating is too late for us. When we mentioned this to our waiter he said 6pm would be no problem, and it was nice to have some extra time. Many people just came in then anyway, not too considerate of their table mates.
The dining room dress code is not enforced. Nice that the code allows jeans on casual nights, but we also saw shorts which are not allowed, and on a formal night there was a t-shirt and ball cap. Overall this was not a dressy crowd, we saw only a few tuxes on formal nights. Average age was mid forties.Entertainment
The entertainment in the main theatre was good, interesting shows much like the other ships, one Cirque du Solei style, some magic, and a Michael Jackson tribute that was probably the hit of the cruise, he had Michael down pat, had everyone hopping. Most of the other big action is in the large Zebra lounge, get there before the theatre next door empties out at 9:30, standing room only after that. One night a conga line dance party, another night the crew dressed passengers in carnival costumes for some mob dance lesson laughter, quite a hoot, and another night a Travolta/Newton-John dance contest, pairs of crew and passengers doing a hilarious routine of 4 or 5 famous moves flipping the girls etc, to the tune of You're the One That I Love. The crew did a great demo first, and then 2 chubby good sport passengers won top prize, they had us in stitches, got a bottle of champagne. The staff in the lounge really work hard to interact with the passengers, and succeeded in involving them in all the action.
The Captain's cocktail reception the first formal night was the most bare bones we've been to, no oer d'erves, what tasted like virgin martinis, and champagne. The MSC club past cruisers party was the same, no snacks, and the drinks were a red virgin fruit drink and champagne, I guess he thought we'd had enough to eat. Honeymooners and anniversaries were also invited to this one.Ports
Most ships hand out port maps at the gangway or have one on the daily newsletter, but none were available this cruise.
Key West Cute port, rented bikes and toodled around. Not much time here, 7-2, which seems to be the norm for most ships stopping here, they don't seem to stay for the whole day. We did a recommended route from the Little White House down Whitehead to the Southernmost Point, then east on South St, and right on Reynolds to get down to Atlantic Blvd along Higgs Beach, then a right onto Bertha and continuing along Smathers Beach on Roosevelt Blvd. Then we made it back on board before the lunch buffet closed. A pretty route along the beaches, took about 1 hour. Bikes are $8-25 per half day depending where you rent.
Playa Del Carman This port was one reason we chose this cruise, we hadn't seen it and also wanted to take a side trip to Cancun. When the ship started doing this itinerary before and after Xmas we saw the cruiser reports that the ship always canceled Playa and went to Cozumel, citing weather too rough for tendering. Finally one cruiser reported that on the day Playa was canceled for them, the sea between Coz and Playa was calm, a row boat could make it across. So weather doesn't appear to be the real reason, just the convenient one. So anyway we got prepared for either port, and sure enough Playa was cancelled for us too and we docked at Coz, at the International Pier outside of town, on a beautiful calm day. With the short time in port (10-4) and the ferry from Coz to Playa eating up 1.5 hours return, and running irregularly (one ferry missed the ship), we decided to stay in Coz instead of doing Playa on our own.
We often like going to a resort in port and having snacks and drinks at the pool and beach, and Coz has several options. For the morning we fooled around the ship pool, then had a quick lunch as soon as it opened, then headed ashore. Since we'd be leaving a resort around 3 to make departure time of 4, we wouldn't get our money's worth from an all-inclusive deal, and wanted a pay-as-you-go deal, which the Fiesta Americana offers cruisers, so we went there and had a nice time, a pretty resort. It's about 7km, a $6 cab if you get the cab at the road 50 feet beyond the cue at the dock, those cost more, about $9. Drinks cost $7.50 and loaded nachos were $8. Loungers with towels are free. The main pretty pool area is on the hotel side of the small road, and they also have a beach club if you walk across the small road, with a smaller pool and loungers under thatched papillas umbrellas. Tell the waiter at either location that you are paying cash for food and drinks.
Restrooms in the lobby. Swim up bar at the pool, and there are cute cabanas with mattresses, free too. If you want all-in there it's $45 which includes all food, only beer and pop for drinks, and a day room.
The Presidente InterContinental offers a day pass for $130 which includes a pool-view day room, food/booze credit of $45 per room, and full resort access. The El Cozumeleno has an all-in day pass for $65. The Coral Princess had free use for cruisers a few years ago. The Melia Cozumel used to be $45 all-in for day use, one of the Wyndham's is currently $50 all-in, the Occidental Grande used to be $50 all-in, Cozumel Palace used to be $75 all-in, and the cute little Ed Cid La Ceiba right by the ship used to be $10 a la carte and $25 all-in.
Grand Cayman Cayman was a tendered port and previous reviews said the tenders did not take people to the Georgetown dock, but somewhere outside town requiring transportation to get to town. This time the tender took us to the main pier downtown. The ship uses it's own lifeboats to tender, but a large private tender took a couple loads too. We read reports that the tender service was very slow here, so in the morning we did the gym and some other stuff and didn't try till after lunch. Later we heard that there were some tempers flaring in the lineup. We did note that tender numbers 1-6 were called at 10:20, then numbers around 17 were called at 11:15, then numbers around 22 were called around 11:30, then numbers around 28 were called around noon, and then at 12:20 numbers were no longer required.
We've been to Grand Cayman several times and never made it to the famous 7 Mile Beach, did the rays and other stuff. So this time we wanted to check out the beach, and decided to walk a few miles of it, starting at the Westin/Ritz Carlton area and ending around the Marriott/Comfort Suites, stopping for drinks and snacks whenever needed. Two choices to get there, either the local bus routes WB 1 (yellow) or WB 2 (lime green) for $2.50 pp or a cab for $5-6 pp. The bus depot is now north of the ship on North Church Road just north of the yellow Waterfront Center bldg. Wave your hand and the bus will stop for you. Sit near the door in case the bus gets crowded. Pay when leaving the bus (it's a big van), exact change requested.
Jamaica We didn't need the hassles in downtown Mo Bay, and booked the Chukka Canopy Tour through the ship, a zip line over the forest, only $10 more than doing it privately. The tour began with a bus ride through the mountains, transferring to camo style army trucks for a wild ride through the jungle to a gorge. There we did pretty zip lines through the tree tops over the gorge and rivers. Well run, good equipment, very safe. Free ice water thermo after, then at a jungle café where you can buy snacks and drinks. They have photographers at each location taking shots of each person, which you can buy after, we got the 7 pack on a CD for $25. You can choose the ones you want from a computer screen. Also take your own camera, there are good opportunities for that as well, just have your hands free.
In the afternoon we checked out the Sunset Beach Resort near the ship, $60 all-in, a 10 minute walk but through a dirty construction area, take a $9 cab from the ship or $6 cab at the road. For the afternoon they wanted $30pp but it was 2:30 and not worth it to us for a couple hours, and they aren't set up to accept cash purchases, so we went back to enjoy the pool at the ship. The 3.5 star Royal Decameron is half way to town and $70 all-in, the Riu is $99 all-in, the Rose Hall Resort is $65 apparently with lunch but no booze, the Holiday Inn Sunspree on the other side of the airport is $55 all-in, the new Palmyra timeshare is free, pay as you go but you might get a speech, and the Coyaba Beach Resort is free, pay as you go. We read that Breezes was $98, and Sandals Mo Bay and Sandals Royal Caribb were $85, but avoid the Sandals Inn, different place. Our cabbie said the Ritz was free, a $15 ride.
Nassau In the afternoon we went to the British Colonial Hilton, an easy 10 minute walk from the ship, to the right of Senior Frogs, easy to see from the deck of the ship. It offers a $40 pass which includes towels and a $30 food and booze credit. We chose pay as you go, which allows you to use loungers and the pool and beach, but not their towels. Beer was $6 and cocktails were $8. Bar and food service was very slow, glad we passed on the AI, 5 ships in port, the bartender was shaking his head at the huge Oasis of the Seas.
The Sheraton Nassau offers a $25 pass without food or booze, and Breezes Superclub is $55 or $60 all-in. The Wyndham Nassau Crystal Palace is $40 incl buffet lunch, don't know about included booze. There are no buses to Paradise Island, just cabs, about $11/2ppl, or $4 pp for 4 or more ppl. Buses (jitneys) are $1.25, bus depot at Bay and George, #10 goes to the Sheraton. Day pass deals change all the time, email or call the resorts to be sure.
DisembarkationOur flight was at 11am so we needed to get off right away and get to the airport, so we did express self-disembarkation where you take your own luggage off the ship, and you have to sign up for this ahead of time. The line started moving at 7:15 and we were at the cabs at 8, and at the a/p at 8:15. If you need to get off sooner than that you could save about 15 minutes by waiting at the Place Vendine boutique which turned out to be near the front of the line. Delta doesn't allow checkin more than 2 hours before your flight, so we had to wait till 9.
Overall we did fine on the Poesia, but it reminded us how much we like to have anytime dining on the other cruise lines, and there wasn't a particular feature of the ship that was unique and special for us. We would cruise MSC again if it hit ports we wanted, and if the price matched the guidelines in the intro, but if the prices were higher than that we wouldn't book early.
If anyone has questions feel free to email us at: Bob7 then the "at" sign, then canoemail, then .com (written out to foil spambots).
On Friday, February 19, 2010, we were packing to leave our cruise on the Poesia. When I went into the "belly" drawer of the desk, I discovered that the ship's information book was missing. I immediately called down to reception to inform them that it was missing. The lame explanation was that they do this to make sure that it is up to date for the next cruise. I said that it is an invasion of privacy and it is not right to go into drawers of the passengers until after they have vacated the cabin at the end of the cruise. I also informed the person at reception that our cabin had been missing the bath towels that day and we had had to request them to be brought to us. The answer I received was not to worry and that I was not going to be charged for the towels. The implication I felt from reception was that I had taken the towels and requested others to replace the "missing" towels.
After dinner, I returned to the cabin to get some medication and vitamins only to findthe door wedged open by the bathroom door making it impossible to see into the room. I pushed the cabin door to full open and pushed the bathroom door shut to enter the cabin. I found the maid standing in front of the desk with the drawer open and her going through the items in the drawer. She tried to make excuses, but I was infuriated and told her to get out of the cabin immediately. I told her and the cabin steward to stay out of my cabin and not to enter my cabin again. I gave him the two bath towels we had used to shower before dinner and he gave me two clean towels to shower with in the morning.
Then I went down to reception and insisted on meeting with the guest relations manager and the head of security. The concierge told me that they were not available. She tried to get me to explain the problem, but I refused as I was not going to repeat the story 3 or 4 times. I said I would stand there and continue to request on seeing the aforementioned people, and I was going to stand there and repeat my request until it was met. She knew that I meant what I said, so she brought me to the offices behind the desk. I met with the guest relations manager, some woman, who was obviously not the head of security, and some man who was supposedly the head of housekeeping.
Only then did I tell them that I was extremely annoyed and angry that my privacy had been invaded. I also explained that I have traveled enough in my 60 years and I have never had any hotel, motel, or ship employees go into drawers while I was still a guest in that room or cabin let alone remove any of the contents that belonged in the room. The lame excuse was that they have a lot today to prepare for the next guests. I told them they have 5 hours from 7:00 a. m. until 12:00 noon to do that. I told them that I understood that they have about 1275 rooms and between 2500 and 3000 passengers whereupon the head of housekeeping chose to ridicule me. He ridiculed me a couple of more times during my tirade because I spoke to him in Spanish so maybe he would comprehend the gravity of the invasion of privacy. What he didn't know is that I understand some Italian as well. He ridiculed me be saying to the others in the room that I had no reason to be so angry as to "mange" him. (as if to say bite his head off).
So far I have told this story to about 6 or 7 people including one woman who we met on board who is a travel agent. The 100% consensus of opinion is 100% for me 100% against MSC Poesia. I'm certain that if this hits the internet, it will not be a pretty picture for MSC. I have read the mixed reviews about MSC, but most of them are nit-picky nonsense. This is a very serious allegation that many Americans will not take lightly considering all that we must endure to travel since 9/11. Here are my nit-picky complaints which add insult to the injury:
1. Hal Brand from Americas Vacation Center, ordered SWEET TEMPTATION Tray of Petit Fours (10 pieces) because it was my birthday. What a disgrace! 10 cookies does not equal 10 Petit Fours. He deserves a credit back of $14.00!
2. We booked this cruise on November 30, 2009. We requested a small table (2-4) and early seating (see chart below from the MSC web-site). However, the daily programs state 1st seating at 5:30 pm with the "threat" "Restaurant doors will close 10 mins. after opening for the seating dinner."
Evening Dining Times Caribbean Sailings & Ocean Voyages 1st Seating 5:45 & 6:00pm / 2nd Seating 7:45 & 8:15pm
3. We were originally seated at a table for ten. When I balked at that I was told to go to talk to the maître d'. There were signs posted that it is impossible to change tables. He told me he would see what he could do the next night. I told him that we had made reservations for L'Obelisco for the nights of 2/14 & 2/15. He said he knew because he had made the reservations. He sent us back to the table for ten, but I refused to sit with a pole between me and my wife. Amazing they sat us alone at a table for six in the upstairs dining room.
4. The maitre d' failed to tell me that 2/14 was also the CAPTAIN'S WELCOME COCKTAIL & the GALA DINNER. By the time I got the program it was too late to change our plans from L'Obelisco to the GALA DINNER. Even though the program mentions the San Valentine's Menu $58 per couple, it states: "Tonight, our Chef suggests Sautéed king prawns." which were not available! The dinner was a disgrace with undercooked risotto and overcooked filet mignon, and very meager portions. So we had a crappy dinner, missed both cocktail possibilities, missed meeting and hearing the Captain. Lovely; all because the maitre d' did not have the courtesy to inform us of the festivities of the 14th.
5. I saw that the wine list in L'Obelisco did not include Veuve Clicuot Ponsardin Champagne. I asked the maitre d' if I could order it for my birthday dinner in L'Obelisco. He was not at all helpful. He told me to go to the bar manager to see if it could be done. Luckily I found Conrad, the Asst. Bar Mgr., and he managed to arrange it for us.
6. My birthday dinner turned into a fiasco too. I ordered the prawns and my wife ordered pasta with lobster and seafood with the pasta well-cooked not al dente. They brought the pasta and tried to serve it to me. We said no it's for her. Ten minutes later they brought me my prawns which were medium shrimp at best and no pine nuts as advertised.
7. On Wednesday, February 17th, they stated that the outside of the ship was going to be washed. When we came back to our room, we found our balcony washed but the balcony sliding door was left WIDE OPEN!
8. On Thursday, February 18th, we came back to the room and found the balcony door left open about 6 inches. Of course I have already expounded on the piece d 'resistance above which had my blood pressure way up there.
I hope that you can come up with something reasonable to compensate the ineptness of the Poesia staff, but don't even think about another cruise!
In spite of the last paragraph they have only offered a $400 credit on another Carribean cruise!
The MSC Poesia is beautiful and awe inspiring. The cabins and beds are larger than most ships I have sailed. The embarkation was quick and uneventful.
The BAD: Food does not leave dining room! Portions for room service. A JOKE! Gala night is dining room only or pizza -- NO BUFFET Children's areas are poorly supervised and possess NO organization Ports of call - flip a coin for port and location -- NO JOKE Docking time was always late except on disembarkation day! Most of the staff was unfriendly Most did not speak very good English. Only two desserts every night with one being Jell-O. The smell of raw sewage every morning at 6:00am on the jogging track.
The VERY UNACCEPTABLE: Adults can come and go in the children and teens areas. HUGE No - No! Staff arguing with guests. Children could drink water or coffee at any time during the day. Cords running down the middle of jogging track.
The bad explained: Every other cruise ship has allowed us to bring a dinner up to the room when someone in our party could not make it for dinner. Not MSC!! The firstnight my father could not make it to dinner so we asked if WE could take his meal to him. We were informed that no food is taken out of the dining room. The Maitre D’ informed me that my dad could order room service and it is free. Yeah right! It is free but it turned out to be a tuna sandwich! MMMMMM So much for the free room service. There is also not food available all hours of the day except room service. Just hope you are not hungry because three small pieces of cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, and Swiss - this is the assorted cheeses) and two packs of crackers with a quarter size of marmalade or three pieces of fruit is it. The only thing to drink during the day is coffee or water unless you want to purchase milk, juice, soda, ice tea, or alcohol. Who ever heard of a cruise ship with two desserts maybe a third? One was always Jell-O. Jell-O is great if it is sugar free and your a diabetic or you have no teeth left to chew the "real" desserts. MSC get with the program!
Children's areas are pathetic at best in the 7-12 and 13-17 areas. I peaked at the younger kids area but I have no comments because of lack of viewing of that area. The 7-12 yr olds are crammed into a small room with a ping pong table and foosball/soccer table for 20 to 30 kids. There is no gate keeping children in and adults out. In fact, my mother and a friend walked right into the children’s' room trying to convince my kids to join in. Adults walking into the kids area does not happen on any other ship that I have been on. The rooms are usually gated and you have prove who you are before your kid is brought to you! I also observed a little girl about 7 - 9 hitting the behind of the male counselor in the room. This is inappropriate behavior for both child and the staff. He never said a word to her! I saw no organization at all during any of my observations of this center. My 15 1/2 year old said they never ran the activities scheduled for her age group. She also said the teens were allowed in the Disco/teen center at 10:30pm approx. but it was suggested that they leave by 11:00pm for adult dancing. However, adults could roam freely in this room at any time and interact with the teens. NO NO NO! I was told my another adult that a "drunk" adult came up to her teen. What is wrong with MSC? Shame on MSC and the drunk adults hanging out with teens. This is unsafe and extremely unacceptable. I work in a high/middle school and work the after-school program for the elementary, this would NOT be and should NOT be tolerated!
The ship never docked on time nor did you know which port you will be going. It seems MSC likes to dock in "no mans land" and lets you pay extra to get into the town. I have been to Grand Cayman three times before and this was the only time we ported/tendered in a residential area where you needed to pay $5 per person each way to go into Georgetown shopping. The cost would have been $40 each way or $80 to go shopping. We found out how to use the public transportation for $2.50 per person each way.
The majority of the staff did not speak very good English but you can eventually find someone to communicate with to help. Hello, MSC CEO, a smile is a UNIVERSAL HELLO -- teach your staff to smile. You very rarely (3 times on the 7 night cruise with the exception of the room stewards and waiters) get a smile, good morning, good afternoon, etc. I finally could not take this one guy at the buffet line that just looked mean (convict looking mean) and scary so I told him he had a great smile and needed to smile, however I really did not know if he had a nice smile. After that he always smiled at me and said hello, he really was scary before.
The jogging track is great to use on a cruise ship. Just to walk briskly with the wind in your hair, sound of the ocean all around you, the smell of salt water, and the wonderful sunrise. The Poesia had a jogging/walking track. I had the wind in my hair, sound of the ocean, and wonderful sunrises but the smell of salt water was masked with the smell of raw sewage every morning about 6:00 am. One word -- Nauseating! I have used the jogging track on every boat (except Disney - did not have one) and the staff is always cleaning it between 5 - 6:30 am but every other ship the cords for the vacuums are run along the sides the track not down the middle. Of course, it makes it more exciting when all of a sudden the cord gets pulled taunt and you trip. Yes, this is the MSC Poesia.
Send the MSC back to the Mediterranean
I have just returned from the January 23rd sailing of the Poesia with 50 of my family members. I'd have to say that the stage entertainment was excellent, though the food was of uneven quality; some nights were commensurate with a cruise, but some nights were really no better than a mediocre coffee shop.
The issue that was the most difficult was the room that my husband, I, and our son shared. It was at the very stern and rocked quite dramatically. I think it is because the ship is very rectangular. It is quite like a shoebox in the water; any waves make it pitch quite a bit. When looking at other cruise ships, all the others have some tapering to the hull to deflect waves, this one had none at all so on windy days with some waves, the ship moved more than any I had ever been on. Perhaps this ship was designed for the calmer waters of the Mediterranean, but it is not at all suitable for the typical waters of the Atlantic. It was worse than any of the many cruise ships I have everbeen on and I have cruised in the Caribbean during hurricane season when conditions are very windy with high waves.
But that wasn't the worst part of our room. Even though we were on the 12th floor, the mechanical vibration from the rudder and engine created so much vibration in our room that it was as if we were in a non stop earthquake. I tried to fall asleep in my berth, but it was as if someone was constantly and violently shaking the bed in time to rhythmic mechanical motions of the engine and rudder. The walls of the stateroom were constantly rattling and loudly squeaking. I am not a princess or one to complain unnecessarily, but this room was uninhabitable. We toured another stateroom of other members of our family that were in a room directly below us and it was the same. They had a 3'X5' mirror on the wall of their stateroom that was constantly, loudly rattling against the wall so that it was absolutely impossible to sleep. Their beds were also shaking violently. I tried to get a different stateroom but the staff at the reception desk was absolutely uncooperative. I requested a new room each day. On the third night, I met with their customer service representative and spoke to him for a good 20 minutes. He insisted that the motion was from the waves. I told him over and over that the waves were only part of the problem but that the mechanical movement from the engine and propeller made the room uninhabitable. I was so tired from the first night in that horrible stateroom that I slept most of the next day in complete exhaustion. My sister-in-law allowed me to sleep in an extra bunk of her stateroom midship the next two nights. My husband and son however, remained in that horrible room. After speaking with the staff each day and getting no assistance from them, I was finally able to prevail with getting another stateroom by the 4th night.
A number of people in our party became ill over the cruise with the flu. I think they contracted it on the ship. For some it was very debilitating requiring injections of anti diarrhea medication. I don't think the crew was as clean as they should have been. For example, at breakfast one morning, six of our family was eating at tables in the 13th floor cafeteria. Two tables away a sweet little girl in a high chair threw up with projectile vomiting that spewed over the table, floor, and her high chair. It was a horrific mess. The parents tried to clean up some of it, but there was more than they had the means to clean. It was at least 10 minutes before the staff came to clean it and they did a cursory job at that. The dishes were cleared and they wiped the table though from my angle I could see quite clearly that there were still flecks of vomit on the table. The high chair remained at the table with the seat of it and the floor coated in cups of vomit. My party sat two tables away and watched as people cleared away. I was absolutely horrified as the staff motioned for two recent arrivals from our family to be seated at the unclean table. It was horrible! There was a vomit coated high chair and floor at one end of this six person table, and the staff tried to seat my family at the other end. I was glad I was there and motioned them away before they actually sat down. Our family sat two tables away while we wondered how long it would take the staff to clean up the vomit on the floor and high chair. No less than 20 minutes later, the vile mess was untouched. I finally asked the staff in a polite manner to clean it up. It was at least another 5 minutes before they came with cloths and a mop to clear the vomit.
Another experience with lack of cleanliness and vomiting at an eating facility occurred on Tuesday. We had a family luncheon arranged for 50 people. We had a section of the formal dining room set aside for us and we were having a nice time. Suddenly, two members of our family at a table adjacent to mine became violently ill and vomited all over the table and chairs. A third followed so that the table was covered with a horrific mess. I don't envy the staff for the mess they had to clean up, but they did a cursory job given the potential for the spread of flu. Yes, the table cloths, dishes, and vomit covered chairs were removed, but the staff did not wipe the table with a disinfectant before putting the new tablecloth on. I stopped them and asked them to wipe the table with a disinfectant, they stalled and a few minutes later returned to complete putting the new tablecloth down without using disinfectant.
As I mentioned before, the food was of uneven quality. I don't expect prime rib every night, but what was offered in many instances was no better than I could have had at Denny's. In fact, Denny's is superior in some instances. The Chicken Cacciatore on the first night was particularly awful. The chicken patty was made from preformed and prebreaded chicken, not unlike the chicken fingers that are served at a typical McDonalds. It was covered in crushed tomatoes that were completely lacking in any spice. The lot was then covered by a rubbery piece of melted cheese. I remember thinking that I hoped the meals would not all be this bad.
The food on the last two nights were good, however, I was disappointed in the lack of food in the evenings. Our family sat at the early seating at 5:30 pm. After dinner, we went to the stage for entertainment or to dancing. By 9 pm many of us were again interested in some sort of food, but there was none, absolutely none, available in the cafeteria. Each night we had to wait until 10 pm for a paltry display of thin crust pizza. The sauce and toppings on the pizza was far from inspired, but the worst part was that the thin crust was most often burned black as the staff has not yet mastered the use of the pizza ovens. If one stayed up for dancing past 11pm, it would be best to pack a few pizzas in their pockets as even the paltry pizzas were only served for an hour.
One evening there was quite a nice deck party hosted by the ship. There was a good amount of merriment; dancing and games. However, there was absolutely no food served. One would think that an evening party would include some sort of appetizers to satiate the revelers, but there was none. Being hungry is not what I anticipate ever happening on a cruise ship.
The shore times are not conducive to excursions. In particular, the port time in Puerto Rico is from 4 pm to 11 pm. We bee lined from the ship to the fort for some sightseeing, but the late port time allowed us only 15 minutes in the fort before it closed for the day.
While the ship’s decor is attractive, there is an enormous amount of hard surfaces in genuine stone, faux stone, or glass. While these surfaces look very attractive and are typical for current decorating trends, it creates much ambient noise from sound vibrating off hard surfaces. It was almost impossible to have a conversation between six people seated at a table in the cafeteria during meal times. The formal dining rooms were better in this regard and were our preferred choice for all meals.
The pools and outdoor spas are only open from 7am to 7 pm.
Given these experiences, I would not recommend this cruise line to any one.