MSC Cruises Review

Deck View

Deck View

We took a 17-day cruise from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale on the MSC Poesia, which had stops in Italy, Tunisia, Spain, Portugal, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the USA. We got a last-minute discount deal, which resulted in our tickets being roughly the same cost as a one-way ticket from Italy to the USA would have been and included 100 GBP of on board credit. Here is our assessment of the cruise:

For the amount we paid, we got a deal on transportation, food and lodging as well as getting to see a few more sites on our way back to the States. However, MSC cruises is not your average cruise line, it began as a cargo shipping company and continues in that capacity with most of the ships in its fleet. Perhaps as a result of those origins, everything on the ship is bare-bones. Everything costs extra, including water. This had the effect of angering a large number of the passengers, who are frequent cruisers and complained that the ‘cheapness’ of this particular cruise line was beyond annoying. Naturally, we did not care much, having literally backpacked our way through rainy Eastern Europe to get there, and were simply happy with having a room and food provided daily.

The food on board was fantastic and we were fattened up quite a bit while on board those two weeks. I imagine a kitchen staff that never leaves the galley from sunrise to well past midnight. It would have been nice, however, if drinks were included, and I don’t mean just alcoholic drinks, all that was available was water or iced tea. Alcoholic drinks were around $10 USD a pop, and hence entirely un worth it. The staff in our area were fantastic, both were from Indonesia, which I am excited to visit someday since our waiters were so friendly and attentive and downright fun.



The design and layout of the ship were nice, if not delightfully circus tacky. The evening entertainment shows were decent most nights, but some shows were so bad that one was left with a tingling sensation like when you first get up from the dentist’s chair. Their low-budget female singer who appeared on stage almost nightly was so bad that people would walk out when she came on stage. We were surprised that there even was entertainment, so we were happy with whatever we got, but cringed along with everyone else every time this lady singer tried to hit a high note and missed. Now I know how Simon Cowel feels.

The MSC Poesia was labeled a Texas Hold ‘em cruise, which is a poker game with no limits. On board there were daily tournaments, but buy ins were 120 Euro, much more than we could afford to wager, especially given only a few people showed up daily to play. This was a real disappointment as we had planned on making back some of the cruise costs at the tables, only to realized the risk outweighed the potential gains with only 4-6 other players buying in at 120 Euro – the pot wasn’t big enough for the gamble.

In all, we had a great time on the cruise and it was a good way to get healthy, fattened up and ready for our return to the USA. Having backpacked for the last 6 months, it was luxury we were not accustomed to, and we took advantage of the time to relax and rejuvenate and bunker down to have nice old fashioned dinner-table chats with the lovely Canadians at our table.

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6 thoughts on “MSC Cruises Review

  1. Lauren

    We would have loved to…. except the buy in was WAY too high! The competition on board was nothing, so it could have been a money maker. Look into blue hair (old fogie) hold’em cruises.

  2. C Thomson

    We were on MSC Splendida in July 2009. Our luggage was missing for the entire cruise. We finally got it at 6pm on the Friday to have to hand it back 6 hours later! Poor complaints department, and poor customer service in my opinion as the offered a 20% conditional discount for a future cruise! Our holiday costing £5000 was ruined and like we will use them again! Very poor company in my opinion! Still the baggage tags did prove our luggage had a much better holiday than us!

  3. S Cary

    As prominent cruisers we were horrified at the events that unfolded. We booked ourselves on what was supposed to have been a fantastic holiday. Booking through Starlight Cruises for the New year cruise 26 Dec 09 – 6 Jan 2010 to first experience FALSE ADVERTISING – An advertisement which advertised many different specials of which Starlight would only honor one. This was then reported to the advertising board. Our cruise unfolded as follows. Arrival in Durban at 9h15 only to stand in a hot warehouse until 12h00 to be called for boarding another hour through customs to eventually get into our room at 14h15. The realisation that more than 60% of the employed staff DO NOT SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH and barely understand it.No explanation as where we need to go or what to do. We were then told that we would eat dinner at 18h30 – we were not given any other options or time, this was way too early to eat. Thinking it could only get better, we were only more disappointed. Our cabin was tiny and had four of us shoved into it barely giving room to get dressed and having the most ridiculous shower with a curtain that sticks to you and a floor you slip on constently. We then race off to dinner and receive the worst food we have ever tasted. Most of the food was badly prepared, over cooked or raw and tasteless. (the so called chef needs to go back to school and learn how to cook as he has no clue). Asking for coffee at dinner is a joke as they refuse to serve it.
    Now when you book your cruise through Starlight you are informed that you will be automatically charged $4 per adult and $2 per child for tips per day. This amounts to $12 a day which is R94 per day. We then realise when ordering a drink of any kind, buying cupons or fetching your own stuff you are charged a 15% service fee, when we asked what it was for we were told its a legal charge for service, that would be great if there was any service. My Question is WHAT SERVICE as it is non-existent.
    You are served from plastic cups,plates,glasses which are filthy, damaged and full of germs. Spend the duration of the time repeatly begging for someone to serve you. some days we waited 5 hours before a waiter was even present and even when you fetch your own drinks you still pay a 15% service fee. The next best thing is everything is way overpriced and all in dollars. You pay for all coldrinks, ice-cream, coffee, coctails,beer, wine etc. They only serve coffee at breakfast,lunch and tea which tastes like dishwater. We then go to breakfast and stand in a cue of 50 people to get something they said was breakfast (as other cruises put it -“if I had to feed this to my dog it would bight me”) this applied to tasteless disgusting lunch and a tea time that was a joke, my childrens birthdays have better food.
    The other disgrace was the number of uncontrolled children on board ranging from babies to 15. The children aged 3 – 12 ran around unsupervised, bumping people over,screaming, messing and stayed up until sometimes 2 in the morning. We were told they cannot control this. They had no activities for your 8 -12 during the day that was exciting. Teenagers ruled the roost. A number of times we noticed along with other cruises 12 year olds drunk which meant that they were allowing underaged drinking. Then you have the junior night club and teen night club. The teen club was between 10 -11 pm for ages 13 -17 why then did they allow men aged 30 – 40 to rome around this club and they were not parents. A bit disconcerting for a parent.
    We then played bingo and payed $40 dollars which is R225 for one game only to be overriden by young children playing as well, what happend to gambling been 18 and over and in all due respect when playing for a cash prize its gambling bottom line. You then go into the casino and have children walking through it all the time, crupiers talking to each other while people play cards which is just unacceptable and on top of that have 10 and 12 year old walk in and start playing slots – no control. Going to the theatre shows at night is a night mare again adults are standing and small children are sitting in chairs to watch shows that are not meant for their age group in any way. No seating control and most of the time you could not see anyway due to the number of people standing. then you get your photo’s to be charged $19.90 per picture and they are distorted and out of focus. When I asked for assistance I was ignored and then had to put up with a columbian lady staff member screaming blue murder at me, hubby went to call management and I had to endure being told by a romanian staff member that South african standards are too high and that and I quote “All south africans are racists and that is why we are having a problem” For heavens sake this is a south african cruise. To top it off the director of Starlight was on board and when approaching him he was most disinterested, his answer was send me an email. So the experience of cruising with Starlight and MSC Sinfonia is as follows:

    PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT WAST YOUR MONEY BOOKING ONE OF THEIR CRUISES it is a complete rip off, what you see on the website, advertisements and tv is not what you are getting
    The only thing they are intersted in is how much money they can make.

    Another site with many complaints is

  4. gullotine

    The article is very helpful to me. The content is very exciting and I can almost understand. I totally agree with your opinion. After read it, I think a lot. Thanks! I really enjoy it!

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