I travelled on the Poesia in Sep 2008. My 8 yr old daughter was well catered for in the kids club. This was especially useful when we went ashore as she didn't want to tour ancient ruins! She preferred it when other English speaking kids were there as none of the staff spoke English. She is very young for her age and I think the club best suited 3 to 6 yr olds especially if they had siblings. In the evenings she preferrred to be with us. She could access alll areas except the casino. She loved dancing with all the family, salsa lessons, the hysterical Miss Poesia competition and all the incredible shows. She just had to get into the continental habit of having a siesta then staying up late to party.
She is a coeliac and was catered for beyond my wildest dreams. Freshly baked, soft bread was placed on her side plate before her little bottom had hit the seat, every evening. Chips were cooked in fresh oil, pizzas, pasta, croissants, muffins, cookies, all appeared in lightening time, depending on her whim. Our head waiter dealt with all her food, knew exactly what to order from the menu and understood the finer details of cross contamination and hidden gluten.
We all enjoyed the food and found that being adventurous and trying the regional menu paid dividends, even if it sounded doubful that was usually the stand out dish of the night. Do not miss the Vitello al tonno.
Do not miss the gala midnight buffet. I couldn't eat another morsel after the gala dinner but the ice sculpture and veg carvings are something else. If you felt like tucking into a plate of giant king prawns (shrimp) followed by desserts to die for no problem!
There are 7 couses so if you don't like something you will not starve. If you're not sure which option to order, ask for them all. We had a big table of 14 family so it was often full of dishes which we all passed around and tried. Mocha gelato vs Creme brulee is too tough a choice for anyone, so it had to be both please!
We totally loved this cruise, rooms are spacious, staff, food, logistics, amenities, entertainment were all outstanding. If you do not like mixing with large numbers of Italians, French and people from all corners of the globe, do not go on this cruise. Most staff do speak some English, but even if they don't they don't bite! Hamburgers, fries, salads and pizza are available every lunchtime, but the local menus are more exciting. If you are not keen on trying new foods you may be disappointed.
The hard sell of packages at the start was hightly irritating. My instinct was not to buy anything and it proved right. Why buy ice creams when you have more than enough food provided? We took BYO wine as we have family vineyards near Venice. Many people were giving their vouchers away at the end as they were unused.
It would be good to have water and tea, coffee etc freely available. as the week went on, we worked out how to do this, from the service area in the buffet but not from the a la carte restaurants. If you want tea in bed in the morning, (highly recommended) fill out the room service menu. You can still take breakfast in any of the other dining options.
As a first time cruiser I was amazed not to feel the slightest hint of motion from the boat, and I never felt cramped or claustrophobic, which was my biggest fear. It was the perfect way to holiday with family as we all did our thing, but came together every night to eat and then party.
I loved it so much I have booked again, closer to home, so I hope P&O won't be too much of a let down after MSC.