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MSC Poesia Cruise Review

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Blue Mosque in Istanbul

ABOVE: The Blue Mosque is a highlight of three MSC sightseeing tours in Istanbul, Turkey.

Shore excursions

Ports of call. From year to year, MSC Poesia's cruising territory may vary. In this review, we discuss the 7-day roundtrip Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Venice, which typically features a Musica-class ship and includes five ports of call:

  • Bari (capital of the Puglia region in Southern Italy)

  • Katakolon (a small Greek port that serves primarily as a gateway to the ruins at Olympia, site of the first Olympic games),

  • Izmir (a pleasant modern Turkish city, once called Smyrna, and a gateway to the ruins at Ephesus),

  • Istanbul (formerly Constantinople, in the narrow straits where the Mediterranean meets the Black Sea)

  • Dubrovnik (a UNESCO-listed walled city in Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea from Venice)

Castello Normanno Svevo - BariMost of the port visits are fairly short (typically five to six hours), although the ship does spend 9 hours in Istanbul. The visits are long enough to get a taste of the cities on your own or to take guided tours.

buses at Venice Cruise TerminalBus excursions. On our cruise, MSC offered four excursions in or from Bari, four from Katakolon, five in Izmir, eight for Istanbul, three in Dubrovnik, and five in Venice. (Some of the Venice excursions were for passengers who were disembarking the next day in Bari, while others were for departing passengers with flights from Venice after 5:30 p.m.) In addition, MSC Poesia offered shuttle buses between Dubrovnik's port and the old walled city at a rather steep € 8 for adults, € 6 for children.

Istanbul shadowsTo judge from the number of tour buses that we saw, shore excursions aren't as big a draw on MSC's Eastern Mediterranean route as they are on some cruises. In part, this may be because MSC's mostly European customers don't feel as much need for escorted tours in the Mediterranean as American and British passengers do.

Dubrovnik StradunAlso, elderly or mobility-impaired guests are often accompanied by younger family members. (Multigeneration family groups were a common sight on our Poesia cruise.) Another reason may simply be that MSC doesn't promote its shore excursions as aggressively as some cruise lines do: tours are available, and you can preview them on your cabin TV, but the selling of tours is lower-key than on many cruise lines.

Katakolon waterfrontTouring ports on your own. In our MSC Poesia photo gallery, we offer sightseeing advice for Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, and Dubrovnik in the form of 241 pages of photos with detailed captions. For tourist information about Venice, see our Venice for Visitors guide, which has hundreds of pages of articles and photos.

  • Tip: In each port (except for Katakolon, which is tiny), try to pick up a map before you leave the cruise terminal. The ship sells simple maps for € 0,50, but you can get better maps--sometimes free--on shore.

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MSC Poesia cruise review

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