We have just completed another cruise adventure and this is our MSC Poesia cruise review from the 7 night Mediterranean cruise from Genoa.
EO Day 967 – October 23rd 2016.
Embarkation Genoa, cruise day 1 (11am – )
The 7 night Mediterranean MSC cruise itinerary
As you can see from the itinerary above, we have a port of call each day which at first glance looks great but on closer inspection and checking the arrival and departure times it’s not that great. The first port after leaving Genoa at 5pm is Naples, Italy where we arrive at 1pm and leave at 7pm allowing a total of 6 hours* in port.
*Something to keep in mind as well is that the actual time in port is generally always less because passengers must be back onboard half an hour before departure and it often takes at least half an hour to get off the ship and that’s the same for every port.
The next port is Messina, Italy and here we arrive at a really good time 8am and leave at 6pm giving us 10 hours* which is generally a decent amount of time for a visit. Next is where the itinerary goes pear-shaped with our next stop in Valletta, Malta from 7am to 1pm, because of the early arrival you need to up at the crack of dawn to get anything out of the day. But here comes the hammer… Leaving at 1pm to keep our arrival into Palma de Mallorca, Spain at 9pm.
This is an overnight stop which gives us an 8 hour* stay here which in reality means that we can sleep for 4-5 hours in port instead of making our way towards Barcelona. Many of the guests were not overly keen on this port of call and especially as you need to take a taxi into the city. Get this, the ship does offer shuttles from the ship to city centre unlimited trips for 12.90 Euro.
I feel that this is a total rip off from any ship company. They advertise we visit this place and that included in the cruise price yet when you get there they want to charge you for the shuttle to the town centre, that is so wrong. It was the same in Barcelona for 8.90 Euro
Let’s move on. Next port for us is Barcelona where we arrive at 2pm and depart at 11pm giving us 9 hours* which is pretty good for seeing some sights. From here we make our way to France for our last port of call in Marseille where we arrive at 12pm and leave at 7pm, a 7 hour* visit.
A special cruise for us
This was not like our other cruises in one very special way. We were cruising this time with Moni’s Mum & step dad. If you remember, earlier this year we did a cruise on Norwegian Escape with Moni’s sister sharing our cabin which was also a first time sharing for us. For this cruise we had neighbouring cabins but not with adjoining doors.
Traveling with others as a group, albeit only the four of us is certainly different from just Moni & I. I’m happy to report that we all got along very well and enjoyed the time we spent together.
Below and on the following MSC review posts I will take you on a 7 night Mediterranean journey onboard the Poesia.
Some stats about the Poesia
The Poesia is the third of the Musica class ships, her sister’s being Musica 2006, Orchestra 2007 and Magnifica 2010. Built in 2008 puts her in the older age bracket of ships these days. And with a total occupancy of 4262 (maximum full cabin occupancy+crew) makes Poesia a mid to large size range cruise ship;
- Tonnage: 92,627
- Length: 963.9 ft 293.80 m
- Beam: 105.6 ft 32.19 m
- Height 193 ft 59.64 m
- Draught: 26.2 ft 7.99 m
- Cruising Speed: 23 kts
- 3223 Passengers
- 1039 Crew
Let’s get right into this review then.
If you just want to have a look around the ship, then my photo tour around MSC Poesia is perfect for you.
Boarding MSC Poesia in Genoa
The folks arrived early morning after taking the overnight bus from Switzerland to Genoa and were already at the cruise terminal by 8.30am. The text came through while we were enjoying breakfast in a cafe close to the Hotel Savoia Genoa where we had stayed the night before. You can read up about our awesome upgrade from the Hotel Continental to the Hotel Savoia Genoa in that highlight post.
Cruise tip here; I always book a night before the cruise in the embarkation port and if possible one in the debarkation port of call. I feel it adds to the good feeling of the entire cruise experience, it also ensures that you are already in the port city and stressing with delays or other last-minute dramas.
I chose the original hotel for its location, both for access to the port of Genoa and the main train station being Genova Piazza Principe. In fact, you could hardly get a closer hotel to this train station, about 500 metres all up, easy to walk to but not so kind on suitcases with uneven footpaths.
You could walk to the cruise terminal from the hotel but I would not recommend it as the roads and sidewalks are not luggage friendly. Plus you want to arrive in one piece, and comfortable so take a taxi, just be aware that it will cost a flat rate of 15 Euro (our return from the port to the hotel was 17 Euro) which is an absolute rip off.
The taxi ride was all of 5 minutes if that, but it was raining and we didn’t even consider any other way of getting there.
At the terminal our bags were taken directly from the cab and loaded onto the luggage trolleys, we gave the bag handler a 2 Euro tip for this. At this early there was hardly anyone there and hence when we walked into the check-in hall it was pretty empty, only our folks that were certainly a little tired when we met them at around 10am.
After our warm welcome, we checked our documents at the first desk before heading up the escalator to another check point where our passports were checked and then we could proceed to the waiting area. We received boarding number two which I think is our lowest of any cruise embarkation.
In the waiting area MSC have a few tables set up with cold drinks available to those embarking. Also an army of bar stewards that are heavily pushing the various drinks packages. We even had one of them tell us that you couldn’t purchase the Allegrissimo package once on board the ship.
Note here; this is totally not true and you can buy the various drinks packages once you are on the ship. Don’t be pushed into a package if it’s not for you, you have been warned. You can check out the various packages on the MSC website this links directly to the beverage packages from MSC.
Later on in my daily posts you will be able to see a selection of drink prices from the bar menus on board. As well as all the packages that are available.
We were allowed to board almost immediately which was great, even though the cabins were not going to be ready until 1 o’clock which is still very good considering many lines 1.30 or even 2pm is the earliest you can get access to the cabins.
When coming aboard the ship early, there was an area where you could store your carry on bag if you wanted. Lunch was ready from 12 o’clock.
We made our way to the buffet restaurant called L’Obelisco Buffet Restaurant and Villa Pompeiana Buffet Restaurant and found a table by the window to relax until lunch was open, then we had a meal from the buffet. Not sure why the buffet restaurant has two names as it’s basically one big buffet.
A few things to note about this boarding procedure that was different than all others.
At check-in you don’t give any credit details for the account. Neither do you receive your cruise card or have your photo taken. The cruise card is waiting for you on your bed in the cabin.
I know you’re probably thinking how can you purchase a drink or something without your card right. Well all you need to do is tell the steward your cabin number or E-Ticket number. I can confirm that the system works and we were able to purchase drinks etc before getting our cards.
As for the setting up the MSC onboard account… This is something that I’m not sure is going to come across as a positive with the guests. There are a few machines that can be found at the reception deck 5, near the excursion office & Boutique shops on deck 6 and on deck 7 near the Cyber cafe & Hitchcock Lounge where you can set up an account with your credit card.
You just need to follow the prompts of the machine and sign the plastic screen. For those that know the system or are pretty good at following instructions on a screen it should be straightforward, if not, the guest services desk can help.
The strange part was that we had no idea about this process and were a little perplexed at first. It is certainly a way of cutting back on staff costs as the task is put onto the guest now. We did see plenty of people struggling to get it done, and also the reception area did get rather busy with people trying to get access to the machines as well as the actual services desk.
The cabins were ready at 1pm and ours were on deck 12, number 12116 & 12118 starboard side.
Balcony Cabin 12116
This balcony cabin felt larger than some others especially the new NCL Escape balcony cabin that we had. Even though the ship is in today’s cruising era probably classed as an older ship, the cabins were very nice.
Plenty of cupboard or drawer space and a decent wardrobe size. Only those painful clothes hangers, you know the ones, oh, and the doors all get in the way being opposite the bathroom and close to the front door.
The decor is quite heavy, and the lack of wall hangers is noticeable.
The bathroom has good space and the old style shower curtain. You won’t find any extras here either, only a couple of shower caps!
There is a safe that would fit a kindle but not a laptop.
The balcony door slides open which is great and the space is very good. The chairs and table were fine. I did notice that many of the decks below had wicker rattan style balcony furniture, I’m not sure what is newer though.
Being on deck 12 we were directly below the buffet restaurant or the outside pool deck. We did hear some noise from chairs being scraped or something like that on a few occasions, but nothing to worry us about. The worst noise came from our neighbours on one side and the loud kids in the corridors! Some we caught playing with a football.
MSC daily program
Each night you will have the following days program delivered to your cabin. If not, or you need another or want to practice reading it in another language, they are on display to the left of the reception, this is the daily planner from Genoa.
You will also receive the specials that are on offer each day.
Overall, the balcony cabin was very good.
A note about our cabin steward. We never met our steward the entire cruise, we did see a few stewards in our corridor yet none of them greeted us or made an effort to engage us. This was rather strange and at the same time disappointing.
I don’t want to see them every minute I open the door but I’d like to introduce themselves on the first night or the next day at least.
Cruise tip here; this Mediterranean cruise follows the coast down from Genoa to Naples, Messina, Palma, then across to Valletta, Barcelona, Marseille and back to Genoa. If you intend spending lots of time on your balcony, then the best side of the ship to be on would be the port side (left) that being the cabins with odd numbers. I say this because you will get to see more from you balcony than the right hand side of the ship.
Also when docked, most of the time we docked on the left side and had a nice view of the city, the other side looked out to see or the port. Having just said that, when in Valletta, we docked facing out of the port and had the most wonderful sunrise 🙂
Once we had relieved ourselves of our bags and made sure the oldies were happy in their cabin we headed out for a quick whiz around the ship before meeting back with the folks for the emergency drill.
The Emergency Drill
This drill is mandatory for all guests and you cannot use the lifts to get to your station, which is always fun or not depending on how well you can get around. Our meeting point was outside on deck 7 beneath the lifeboats. The weather was pretty awful and luckily the drill was over quite quick especially for us as we were among the last to arrive! You do need to collect your life jacket from your cabin and take it with you to your respective muster station.
Time to say goodbye…
After the drill at around 5pm the Poesia eased away from her mooring in Genoa to the sound of Andrea Bocelli blaring out over the speakers “time to say goodbye” unfortunately the wet and cold weather put a damper on the exciting feeling at sailaway and only a few brave souls could be found on the outer decks.
I will try and keep this review reasonably photo light and add plenty more photos for each day of the cruise as I get them finished and loaded to the site. So let’s begin and work our way around, adding information as it comes to mind.
The MSC Poesia
The ship herself is beautiful and in good shape. The flow around her is also comfortable. The somewhat unusual part is the back stairs and lift area of decks 5 & 6 which are behind the restaurants on these two floors, so to walk through you must go up to deck 7 and along. That was the only strange thing I found.
Embarkation at each port
This was another biggie for Moni & I. We were not aware that the ship was going to be having new passengers on and off at nearly every port. We both feel that this has an adverse affect on the actual cruise in a big way. Not only do the passengers keep changing, the staff don’t seem to build any rapport with you and I put this down to having basically a turnaround day in each port. It’s also a bit messy each day we are in port as passengers getting off can be seen carrying their bags around which is bad enough when you embark, not that you want that every day.
A note here also, that if you want to walk off with your luggage, the typical “carry off” early disembarkation… You can’t, that is what we were told when I enquired. MSC didn’t allow it, probably because of that fact that not everyone gets on and off at the same port and hence the huge traffic jam of people with and without luggage. Having said that I did see some people with big luggage when we arrived in Barcelona!!
The good news for MSC cruise fans is that you can basically book and join any round trip Med cruise at any of their ports of call. However, you may have to do some good detective work to find those deals, I’ve only found boarding from Genoa, Naples, Barcelona and Marseille so far, but I’m sure I saw people get on in Messina, and off in Palma and Valletta, or I could be just so used to it that each day looked the same. 🙁
It would be fair to say that Moni & I prefer the one main embark and debarkation port.
Now onto the topic of food, glorious food. Or not as the case maybe.
We had early sitting which is at 6.30pm, late sitting is at 9pm and too late for us. Our dining room was Le Fontane on deck 5, the other dining room on deck 6 is Il Palladio and there you have My Choice dining.
The restaurant is nice but was very loud at most dinner times, probably due to the low ceilings and the amount of passengers eating. The tables were very close to each other and the waiters had difficulty in actually getting around and hence had to pass you the food!
The menus were quite good, still an alarming amount of repetition (maybe that’s just the 26 years of a professional chef in me) on the menus. The meals that we consumed were nice and tasty, the only thing they could have been hotter.
The service from our waiters was rather disappointing. Easy come easy go kinda approach, never did they greet anyone by their name except me which was a shame. There was no flair or joy in their approach, more like just another table to serve, let’s get it over with.
Lunch was very similar. The interesting thing with lunch (and breakfast) in the restaurant is that they also have a small buffet where you can help yourself to items on the menu. This was a nice surprise even though we chose to order off the menu because we wanted to be served for a change rather than battle the buffet upstairs.
Talking about the buffet
My biggest gripe here is that the food was never, yes never once hot enough. If I had my infrared temperature gauge I could have proved it on every item. This was a real shame, and no it was not because we had to battle our way from buffet to table, even though that was the case sometimes.
I do think there should be a pre cruise education school that each passenger needs to pass, like a driving test, before they can be allowed to cruise, because a hell of a lot have no awareness of their surroundings or any manners, etiquette whatsoever. Maybe it was the style or price of the cruise but it was pretty bad, it could also be a mix of so many nationalities that upset the wonderful cruise life balance.
I must say though, that MSC certainly know how to make pasta and pizza. All of the meals in this category beit in the dining room or from the buffet were very good indeed just not hot! Also the breads and ice creams were very good. The rest of the selection did leave a lot to be desired and was quite repetitive. You can see lots of photos from our meals and the buffet selection on the individual day posts.
There is only one speciality restaurant on the Poesia and this one is the Kaito Sushi Bar which we never tried out due to the oldies lack of sushi, but I would add that when we walked past it was never busy, apart from officers dining.
The coffee lounge
If you follow us regularly you’ll know that we are coffee snobs and love good coffee. We found the coffee on MSC Magnifica cruise to be one of the best and were hoping for similar on the Poesia. I’m happy to report that it was good, but also inconsistent.
Service here in the Le Rendez-vous Bar was at times very slow and finding a spot was a battle especially if you timed it wrong which was difficult to avoid, just before lunch time from 11am, between dinner sittings, when expecting a port of call for departing guests, you can see that it was hard to find a space, especially for four, we generally found two seats and waited for the others to make room.
This is one area that MSC should consider better seating rather than the huge, wide and heavy chairs that take up so much space, sometimes you can’t even get out of where you are sat as they way through is blocked by touching chairs.
Having said that, the area around the lobby where the water feature wall and piano are is all seating for the Rendezvous bar cafe area so there are lots more seats here but more in the open. This is also in front of the two guest services desks which are one on each side.
We didn’t get to many shows in the theatre, but what we saw was very good.
The music around the ship was good and we especially enjoyed the voice of Melo in the Il Grappolo D’oro Wine Bar. The Pigalle Lounge was quite dark and loud. The Zebra Bar was often very busy and the Bar De Poeti we never spent time in only to walk through. Also the Bar Smeraldo and Giada Bar.
Il Grappolo D’oro Wine Bar had a relaxed atmosphere for our evening drinks where we had good service and ambiance for a conversation. There are a number of TV screens showing sports especially the Italian football, but no commentary!
As for on deck activities we didn’t take part and actually didn’t see anything in the program that excited me to want to go take a look. The ping-pong (table tennis) was always busy and you had to sign the bats and balls out, as was the same when wanting to use any board games with a 10 or more Euro caution.
And you had a specific time only when you could actually go and hire out the various items, so much for an easy relaxed cruise right, Oh I think I’ll plan to play table tennis today!
We only walked through the S32 Disco on deck 14 at the very rear of the ship as nothing really got going until way after midnight.
The outer decks
These decks are very nice and not too crowded, there were plenty of sun loungers even on the best weather days. The pools Coral Bay towards the middle-front and Cayo Levantado the middle-back were not overly packed either, sure enough there were a few rowdy kids but not at all bad. The pool bars Mojito Bar and Piraña Bar most of the time were busy and we had a bit of a wait for service but no big deal, we were relaxing.
Deck 16 is the only deck area that is open at the front and yet is restricted to those whom pay extra for access to the area. Not just on one side but both which means that unless you pay, you can’t get to the front of the ship which I think kinda sucks big time. I did get up there on one day when the cross winds were strong and they had closed the Top 16 area.
But this is what lots of people like to see at least now and then, and especially when heading into port.
This is a view that I took when checking out the Top 16 area on the windy day between Valletta & Palma.
I guess if you wanted more peace you could pay extra and use the Top 16 Bar but there is no pool there so why bother. They have a Solarium though which I didn’t get to see. But the best tip for a peaceful spot would be at the very back behind the disco, only there are not that many places and no beverage service.
On deck 16 aft you find the sport center which is basically basketball court/tennis court where we saw lots of kids always playing ball games. Just below this on deck 15 starboard side is a minigolf course, all of 5 holes basically identical. This is actually very poor indeed and not worth bothering considering you have to go and hire the putters and balls!
Walking down a deck to 14 you find the children’s outdoor area. If you go inside you’ll find the Teens Club (12-17) and also the I Dinosauri (3-11) and Games Arcade on either side of the ship.
On deck 7 you can walk from the back along the sides and around the front of the ship, the only place you can’t walk is at the very back, but it’s still a nice promenade, just no sun loungers here which is strange.
This is always a problem on most ships and if you ask me it should be banned. Fat chance of that happening especially when you saw how many smokers were on board. Smoking is allowed along the left hand side of the pool deck 13, also on the left side on deck 14 rear, outside on deck 7 right hand side, in parts of the casino and the dedicated smoking room the Hitchcock Lounge Cigar room.
Yet you still have them smoking on their balconies and in other parts not allowed. This really shits me, but what can we non smokers do? My biggest gripe is smoking neighbours. Why should I have to suffer your indulgence when it’s clearly not allowed and we specifically book balcony cabins for the wonderful fresh sea air! When in port at Marseille I was recording a video as the ropes were being fixed and I caught a group of smokers at the rear smoking and one flicked his but over the side… Gotcha.
It’s a well known thing that Internet at sea can be a nightmare. Well this 7 day cruise it was quite good, we had service nearly everywhere, some places better than others but overall pretty good. The price was reasonable as well for our four devices, 56 Euro including a 15% members discount.
There are a few packages to chose from and you can sign up with your own device or on one of the ship’s computers at the Cyber Cafe on deck 7.
I think there are around 12 or more computer stations which were empty every time we walked past, and I expect one day this area on MSC ships will be converted.
Onboard shopping can be found on deck 6 with the usual boutique stuff with special offers everyday of the cruise. With watches and jewelry, bags etc on show when the shops are open, also a stand where the guys offer samples of products where you experience them and then you can buy.
Also on deck 6 is the MSC Shop with everything you can imagine branded with MSC logo. The shore tours office was pretty busy most times here on deck 6.
The Library on deck 7 is small and only open at certain times as you need to sign the books in and out. Still using this crazy system.
On the opposite side is the Card Room with around 6 or 7 tables and it was quite popular.
The Photo Arcade is also on deck 7 and stretches from the middle to the back. The photographers are quite in your face, especially at dinner times and at embarkation and the prices are still expensive.
There is no art onboard, in that I mean no art auctions or displays with items to buy which makes a change.
The casino is quite small for this size ship but does have the usual tables and machines, but like I mentioned above it allows smoking and is probably not as busy as other casinos we have experienced.
The Gym & Spa
Once again a good place for a bar or restaurant has been used for the gym, absolutely crazy. Moni used the gym on a few early mornings and reported that it did get busier later on like most gyms do. It is equipped with the normal gear you’d expect to find and it comes with an awesome view.
To get to the gym you enter through the Spa corridor past the hair salon and Spa Bar and reception area which leads into the various spa facilities on board. We didn’t use the spa on this cruise with the folks with us. But the prices and offerings are at their normal high price. They did offer daily special deals which you can check out on my day by day reviews.
Our arrival back to Genoa was on time and we were reasonably early in getting off the ship because the oldies had to catch their coach back to Switzerland while we were heading to the Hotel Savoia for a few hours.
The disembarkation process was smooth and once in the terminal building all the bags were waiting in the coded sections and it was quite easy to find.
We love cruising, in fact I’m sure we could live on board these wonderful vessels. Unfortunately 7 days or nights is never enough, but for this cruise it probably was. Even though the ship herself is very nice and easy to navigate, the service and food did let MSC down. Please don’t forget that this is only our opinion and many others would have a totally different view.
The ports of call were pretty good with the exception of the night in the port of Palma, this needs to be looked into.
Would we book MSC again? Yes we certainly would. This was our second MSC cruise and of course not all ships and crew are the same.
Would we recommend MSC cruises? Yes, but please know this. MSC is not the high end of cruise lines in fact I’d probably rate them on the mid to budget range. Saying that, I’m looking forward to the new ships that MSC are having built and entering service next year and beyond.
We’d love to hear your thoughts let us know in the comments below
We’d love to hear from you, tell us about your experiences on the Poesia or any other MSC cruise ship that you’ve been on.
How would you rate the Musica class ships? What’s your favourite place onboard the Poesia? Would you book again with MSC?
Looking forward to reading your comments.