In a North American cruise market there are numerous choices and flavors of cruise lines intricately managed and fine-tuned to appeal to American vacationers, however; MSC Cruises offers something different. All the cruise lines have a bit of culture to offer, but most of these cruise companies based in the U.S. are distinctly “Americanized” and cater primarily to Americans and the North American market. MSC Cruises appears seasonally in U.S. waters and during the winter months of 2011 and 2012, the MSC Poesia gallops across the Caribbean like a strong and graceful Italian stallion at sea.
MSC Cruises is a family-owned company with it’s roots in container shipping and a fleet of nearly five hundred container vessels making the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) the second largest carrier in the world. In 2003 MSC Cruises invested 5.5 Billion Euros into a massive ship-building project to create an ultra-modern fleet, and today the line has twelve stylish cruise ships, including the MSC Poesia which debuted in 2008. The owner and his wife are intimately involved in the interior design of their ships, and aboard the MSC Poesia, it is very clear to see that a great deal of care went into the fabrics, the colors, materials, artwork, and layout of the ship’s interior spaces. The “feeling” onboard the MSC Poesia is exciting with sharp, contrasting design materials like brass, glass, marble, indirectly lighting and colorful carpet details.
I took my ten-year-old son on a December cruise aboard the MSC Poesia to the Western Caribbean, so both my son and I were particularly interested in the quality of the kids programs. I’m happy to report that my son had an excellent time during this cruise. The ship had a large complement of families with kids, and I noticed the pools and pool deck areas were very popular on our days at sea. Of course we had excellent weather during our cruise. The MSC Poesia was full, however; because of the excellent configuration of the lounges, restaurants and deck areas, the ship didn’t feel too crowded.
I’ll have to admit that prior to my cruise onboard the MSC Poesia, I was expecting more Italian crew and staff, but it soon became clear that gone are the days when ships employed single-nationalities. I was not disappointed, and enjoyed the international mix of crew and staff from many nationalities, including Canadians, Europeans, and Indonesians. The passenger complement also included many Italians, Germans, French and Americans. This mix of passenger nationalities is a specific element that creates the international “feeling” onboard the MSC Poesia. During the cruise throughout the ship and during the shows, announcements were made in several languages, so it’s important to be tolerant and flexible, a trait which Americans tend to lack sometimes.
The dining was exquisite. I was impressed with the menu choices each night and the quality and taste of the cuisine. In our consumerism culture we have today, it can be easy to not fully appreciate the exceptional thought and planning that goes into preparing thousands of fine-dining experiences every day and night, however; the amazing Chefs onboard the MSC Poesia are able to make it happen with apparent ease. A big winner during our cruise was the lobster and Filet Mignon. When I cruise, my usual menu choice is the fish, and I was very pleased with the taste and quality. The salmon was from Norwegian waters and prepared just right. A common American impression of European cuisine is that the food is bland, but I did not experience this on the MSC Poesia. This is a cruise line with a strong Italian heritage so you can expect some great pasta, and those who love Italian food will feel at home onboard the MSC Poesia. The two main restaurants are on Decks Five and Six aft, and if I were to cruise again on the MSC Poesia, I would choose the restaurant on Deck Five because of the curvy passage from one end to the other. The restaurant on Deck Six had a straight passage from one end to the other that seemed to share traffic with the waiters more than the curvy passage. The cafeteria restaurant on Deck 13 aft was laid out well, however; if you arrive at certain peak times, you might experience lines. On one of the final evenings there was a delightful late-night buffet, and the lines were very slow as passengers took pictures. A tip for those wanting the chocolate and to see the ice and butter carvings, skip the long lines and make your way further aft where the sugary goodies are.
Because of the many languages represented among the crew and passengers, the design of the entertainment is filled with visual and musical acts. The shows were packed each night because passengers thoroughly and consistently enjoyed the entertainment. When the topic at the diner table is how great the show was the previous night, it’s clear MSC Cruises is doing something right with planning great entertainment and hiring talented performers. The acts included juggling, acrobatics, dancers and opera singers, and I particularly liked the show lounge with it’s purple decor and high-tech stage.
When you cruise on the MSC Poesia, be sure to reserve a balcony stateroom, so you can enjoy the ocean breezes. Our stateroom 10124, was comfortable and efficient. The cabin stewardess was friendly, and always said hello when she saw us passing through the corridor. Our room was spotless, the bathroom was always clean with fresh towels. My son actually discovered how the stewardess knows if we are in the room or not, there’s a tiny light outside the door near the ceiling panel that indicates the room is occupied. Your room key card is used to turn on the lights in the room, so when you leave the room and take your card, the lights turn off saving power.
How does the MSC Poesia compare to other cruise lines in the Caribbean? Keep in-mind that the MSC Poesia is a high-volume passenger vessel, yet MSC Cruises does a classy job of making sure everyone onboard is treated with white-glove service. There is an aura of Italian culture onboard the MSC Poesia that even the well-traveled individuals will appreciate. Considering the fine dining, classy décor, excellent entertainment and attention to details, a vacation on the Italian Stallion at Sea, the elegant MSC Poesia, will offer an experience that will delight the senses. Contact iCruise at www.icruise.com to book your next cruise vacation and check out the great deals MSC Cruises has to offer on any of their beautiful ships.