Review of the MSC Poesia: A Nice Older Ship, Sadly at the Bottom of MSC’s Priorities

This aging MUSICA class of MSC’s ships (which comprises 3 other ships such as the MSC Magica, MSC Magnifica, and the MSC Orchestra), is surely starting to get eclipsed by the shiny new mega-ships in MSC’s ranks. But as I previously stated in my reviews of the MSC Magica and MSC Magnifica, it is definitely not a reason to discard them for their new sisters. They still hold quality service, more space per capita, and even better sailing prices! However, contrary to the other ships in its class, the MSC Poesia seems to have been left a little behind in MSC’s priorities, and quality has started to suffer with sub-standard animation team and show team. But at a lower price than most ships of the same age, is the MSC Poesia still a good purchase for your next holiday? This is what I will try to debate in this review.

Ratings

  • Check-in / Check-out: 5/10
  • Entertainment onboard: 4/10
  • Theater Shows: 4/10
  • Ship Common Areas 6/10
  • Ship Comfort: 6/10
  • Room Comfort: 5/10
  • Service Quality: 7/10
  • Food: 5/10
  • Cleanliness: 5/10
  • Quality/Price: 5/10
  • Overall satisfaction: 5/10

Special Note on the rating System: The rating system on my Cruise Reviews is based out of comparison to what many consider the best cruise line over the board: Royal Carribbean. In fact, Royal Caribbean has become so good at the game that they currently have a steady 25% of the clientele of cruise ships over the world, a very considerable amount. I must agree that Royal Caribbean is the best experience one can have on a cruise, and this is due to the fact that they are excellent in absolutely all the categories I list in my Rating articles. When I say excellent, this means they pretty much rank a 8/10 without exception. Some cruise lines may have one or two categories with higher ratings than RCCL, but may lack in other categories. So in my rating system, for comparison purposes, if a category ranks 7/10, it means it is lesser than the RCCL’s average, while a 9/10 means an Exceptional rating, better than the RCCL Average.

Entertainment onboard “Fun Factor”

The entertainment team onboard was mostly not very present at any time. Their task almost uniquely consisted in organizing the nightly show and disappearing into the abysses of the ships to never be seen again during the day time… Usual animation teams constantly organize activities onboard for guests to entertain themselves or to get out of their comfort zone. But sadly, on the MSC Poesia, this was not the case. I would recommend MSC take examples of the great work animation teams on other companies do to keep passengers entertained, like Carnival or Royal Caribbean, as the formula is not rocket science. This is a lack across the MSC fleet, but more notable on the MSC Poesia.

Entertainment onboard: 4/10

Theater Shows

Definitely the biggest disappointment of my experience on the MSC Poesia… After reviewing extensively two of her three twin sisters in the same category, and in the same Christmas conditions, I was expecting the entertainment to be similar. But to my great disappointment, this wasn’t the case… From the very first show, it was clear that the core team of production dancers and singers of the MSC Poesia had suffered cuts from the production team, most probably to the benefit of the collection of new ships needing staff. Only a maximum of 2 signers were showcased on any given show (usually one of them would perform per night), and probably some of the lowest talented singers from all the fleet of MSC shows I have seen, where the female signer felt more like an amateur karaoke signer than a professional. This wasn’t the case on the MSC Musica which had the standard 2 female and 2 male singers with amazing voices. The dancing team was also limited, and the production “broadway style” shows were definitely the lowest quality I have personally experienced on any ship… the shows would rarely pass 25 minutes of content, including a long introduction and a long conclusion by the cruise director. But the main act never really lasted more than 20 minutes. The production team didn’t even bother elaborating exciting stories through the dances. Instead, they felt more like fill-in improvisation to the only interesting part of the show, which was the acrobatic performances. In all the shows during our review cruise, the dancers would have only one costume and would keep it for the whole duration of their show… Compared to the amazing shows that I have experienced on other ships, this confirmed to me how weak the resources were allocated to the MSC Poesia.

As stated above, the only focus of the shows was on the acrobatic performances, which, in all honesty, was pretty good in general, and the only reason why I allocated at least a few points to this category. But giving more than 4 points would be unfair to the other great teams that perform on other ships. There was even two night where the whole show was given to one-man shows; a Magician and a hand-shadow artist… An unusual selection of shows on a cruise ship where people enjoy the “Broadway style shows”.

Result Theater Shows: 4/10

The Production Team
The excellent acrobats (the only highlight of the shows)

Room Comfort

Rooms were a little bit smaller than average ships, with hardly any space to move around if more than two passengers. This could be mostly because we were in an interior room. The outside rooms with balconies seemed to have much space. So if you intend to spend much time in the room, then I would consider maybe opting for a balcony room. We did notice a lack of interest in the cleaning service, which was not equal every day. Service was even omitted completely one day because “where some days the cleaning was completely omitted because of “too many passengers had checked out that day… (a clear sign, not enough staff was allocated to room service)

Result Room Comfort: 5/10

Service Quality

The service quality was generally good, with waiters in the main dining room on par with other MSC ships. The bar staff and buffet staff also seemed very well trained and always greeted guests. Nothing out of the ordinary to note here.

Result Service Quality: 7/10

Cleanliness

Sailing during new years time meant completely overcrowded. And since there were many Italian families sailing together for the festivities, with as many as 4 guests per cabin when they came with kids. This meant absolutely overcrowded buffets with people struggling to find a seat to have their meal, especially in cold climates where going to the outside tables was not a possibility. The overcrowded space also meant people coughing all around us at all times, which could have been insecure for people worried about contagion.

Although many gel dispensers were available throughout the ships, we found a lack of attention to cleanliness around the buffet area, which had a lot of contact with many guests and should have put more attention to cleaning, especially during winter times around Christmas with many people suffering from colds and other coughs.

Result Cleanliness: 5/10

Food

In general, the food was satisfactory and on par with most other MSC ships, but we noticed a few meals in the dining room were served with divergences between plates, with much less meat in some, or lower quality products on some plates compared to others. For example,  on a steak meal, we were even served a whole peace of fat with absolutely no meat on it… Definitely, not the quality one would expect on other better-quality cruises. The diversity of food on the buffet was also on the weaker side, compared to other MSC ships. however, the salad bar was very big and contained a great variety of ingredients.

Result Food: 5/10

Fellow Passengers On-Board

Being on an Italian ship, sailing on the western Mediterranean from Marseille and around 2 Italian ports meant the vast majority of passengers were from Italy. Big families and mostly loud crowds were encountered. This quickly shifted to a more American and international crowd on the last day of sailing when the world cruise started. So depending on your port of embarkation, you will find that local crowds will be dominant onboard and will change the experience.

Conclusion

Overall, the MSC Poesia is not a bad ship to spend your holidays on, but for the picky passenger who wishes for medium to good quality sailing, this might turn out to be a disappointment. Compared to other similar older ships of the same size on the MSC fleet, we found the that quality of services served onboard was much weaker. The most disappointing aspect for me was the shows and noting from the complete absence of anyone giving a standing ovation on any night, this sentiment seems to have been shared among other guests.

Would I come back on the MSC Poesia if I had the opportunity? i am not sure… If I find myself in a port near the Poesia, and the price was really attractive, I could consider it. But I would definitely prioritize paying a little more to get a cabin in any of the MSC ships, to have most certainly a better experience… For the first-time cruiser, this could be a good cruise to try. For the medium to experienced cruiser, this might turn into a disappointment… You might want to have a look at my reviews of other MSC cruises to decide for yourself which cruise is more appropriate for you.

Overall satisfaction: 5/10

In Pictures

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