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Julia - Sherfield

Age: 53

Occupation:Medical Secretary

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Poesia

Sailing Date: 2011-12-23

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

The general air of the crew is unhelpful and standoffish. The poor level of English comprehension of the waiting staff made communication particularly difficult. Senior staff were extremely standoffish and did not acknowledge passengers when approached.

Main Dining Room: Il Palladio

All food, from both the Italian and the other menus, was served tepid at best, and was tasteless and bland. The vegetables were hard and insufficiently cooked. There was no option to have a salad without dressing, and communicating this to the waiting staff was very difficult due to their poor command of English. No tea or coffee was served at table at the end of the meal. In general service appeared rushed.

Cafeteria: Villa Pompeina

Again, "hot" food was tepid and looked congealed and unappetising. The menu was repetitive and uninspiring. Only the food freshly cooked such as omelettes at breakfast, and pasta and burgers at lunch were warmer than tepid. Crockery and cutlery was not replenished promptly. The breakfast and lunch opening times were relatively short which resulted in long queues and rushed dining. The evening buffet closed at 8.15pm each evening, with only pizza available for the rest of the evening. The no swimwear code was not enforced, and in general the senior staff were not interested in what was happening around them. Food was not available 24 hours, and there were long periods when nothing was available which was a problem if you got back to the ship just as the buffet was closing.

Our cabin (8155) was well appointed and well maintained. We did have some communication difficulties when asking for extra pillows etc. On the last morning we returned to our cabin well before 7.30am when we had to vacate to find that the steward had already moved all of our personal bags and last minute toiletries, and had stripped the bed and made it up into twins. We have never encountered this before on any cruise, and felt that our personal belongings had been violated.

Sea Days
A very limited programme was on offer which mainly mindless "jeux sans frontiers" type games around the pool. The "crafts" offered were suitable only for preschoolers and were run by bored young entertainment staff. There was thumping loud pop music all round the pool area all day which was difficult to avoid. The 2 lectures given by an American called Jim on pirates and Christopher Columbus were interesting and a very welcome diversion. He gave us more information about the ports we were to visit than we could ever have got from MSC Poesia.

Evening Entertainment
The format of the variety shows was good given the huge number of different nationalities on board, but after the 3rd/4th show it did become a bit monotonous. One female singer was frequently flat. The dancers were good, but by the end of the week we could anticipate the choreography. The acrobats and jugglers were the highlight of each show.

We did not partake in any of the late evening entertainment as it seemed to be an extension of the mindless games from during the day. There seemed to be nothing to do but sit in a bar and drink, not an option for us as we are not big drinkers.

On the last day we took the excursion costing $62 each to the everglades with airport transfer. We had completed the visit to Gator Park (very disappointing) by 11.30am. Our guide Edward from 7871 Travel then said that as it was too early to go to the airport he would take us to Dolphin Mall for a "supplement" of $2.50 per person which he said would cover a discount pass. If we did not agree we would have to stay at the park for nearly 2 hours. Many people refused to pay as they were short on cash, and had already paid for a full 5 hour excursion. Edward refused to budge, so we spent the time till 1.00pm at the park. I spoke to the Park Manager who confirmed that the Mall was on our route back to Miami Airport, and that entrance was free.

I do not appreciate being held to ransom by a tour guide who is obviously trying to line his own pockets. Most of the passengers were British or European who are obviously not as easy to bribe as Americans, as I got the impression this was a regular occurrence.

We have not enjoyed this cruise as much as we would have hoped due to the problems encountered on board which I have detailed above.

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