Cruise Ship: MSC Poesia
Cruise Destination: Western Caribbean
Cruise Dates: March 13 - March 20, 2010
Guest Contributor: Bob
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 cabins available 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.
If you fly into Fort Lauderdale a cab to the port is $15, and the dispatcher at the airport 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.
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 because your card is out of the slot. Shampoo and body wash, no conditioner. Nice shower wand, good pressure and temperature 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.
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.
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