Last week I wrote about a two-week trip that included Florida and a one-week Caribbean cruise. In Florida we first visited Orlando and Disneyworld Park. We particularly enjoyed Epcot, which can be compared to a world’s fair. We spent a day there seeing most of the exhibits in the various pavilions and riding many of the conveyances available to view their interiors. Epcot is sprawled over some 300 acres at Disneyworld.
From Orlando, we drove south to Ft. Lauderdale and visited, among other places, the Everglades Safari Park to ride one of the Air Boats through the swampy terrain.
Come Saturday we turned in our rented automobile and prepared to depart our hotel and be transferred to the port of Ft. Lauderdale to board the ship we had chosen for a week’s Caribbean cruise. This we did early in the afternoon and found the check-in process at the dock very fast and easy.
Our chosen ship was MSC’s (Mediterranean Shipping Company) lovely Poesia which translates roughly to “poem of the seas.” It is only 5 years old and still looks as if it just came from the builders. Painted white and blue it is 963 feet long and 93,300 gross tons large. It has space for 2,500 passengers in lovely staterooms that look as though a top designer decorated each room. I know of no other cruise line whose cabins are so well designed and decorated as MSC’s ships.
Soon after we boarded and found our stateroom, we were hungry and took an elevator to the top pool deck where the Villa Pompelana buffet is located.
We filled our plates, enjoyed lunch and returned to our stateroom to find our luggage had arrived so we spent the next half hour unpacking. The MSC Poesia has good closet space for the average cruiser as well as plenty of drawer space for selected items. The bathrooms are wisely planned and allow space for your personal articles there. The MSC line also supplies shampoos, body soap, and other items you expect in an upscale hotel or ship.
We also had a large balcony equipped with two nice chairs and table. We spent a lot of time outside enjoying the calm seas and warm sun. The balcony also allows you privacy from the other guests while sitting outside.
Balcony rooms also have large sliding glass windows and doors which allow a lot of outside sunshine to lighten your room. Our stateroom had a large dressing table, very large bed, a couch, coffee table, color flat screen TV, small refrigerator, and personal safe among
some of the features. And each stateroom has individual controls for heating and air conditioning.
The MSC Poesia offers many public rooms to enjoy during sea days: a very large casino, lounges, bars, meeting rooms, upscale shopping, several restaurants, the cafeteria, two swimming pools, European spa, exercise rooms, hair dressing salons, wine tasting rooms, several musical groups that play during the day as well as in the lounges at night.
In the main atrium area a fine classical musical quartet plays before dinner, getting you into the mood for fine dining. And, fine dining it is. The two main restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at specified times with a vast menu of selections. Being an Italian ship, some of the courses are Italian recipes and are they good! You will find everything from shrimp, lobster and steak to lesser-known dishes, which are tempting to try. The salads are the best as well as the soups. Desserts are out of this world! The service is exemplary and always with a smile. Also available are two alternative dining venues, one is Italian and the other Japanese.
The MSC Poesia caters to not only North Americans, but also Europeans. Half the ship’s passengers on our voyage were from other countries. Because of this the entertainment cannot use language, but instead offers the best dancers, magicians, trapeze artists, and singers. The ship must have at least 40 main stage entertainers that appear in the large and beatifically decorated theater that easily seats 1200. The sound and lighting system is superb and much like that found in the best theaters in America.
I hear some people say they don’t think they want to take a cruise because there isn’t much for them to do while at sea and they are afraid they will be bored. Not so today. In just one day at sea on the MSC Poesia there were the daytime activities: morning exercises, aerobics, arts and crafts, beauty demonstration, good morning game, ping pong tournament, general trivia contest, line dancing, bingo, movie trivia, Italian lesson, TV theme song trivia, fashion show, cocktail demonstration, table soccer tournament and always, of course, there is the casino.
In your stateroom the various channels on TV include CNN as well as several others and they come to the ship via satellite. I also enjoy the movies shown on TCM and others.
Wi-fi is available by signing up at the front desk. In other words, today on a popular cruise ship you don’t have to give up TV or use of your computer.
We always made sure we found a seat in the theater each evening so as not to miss the live entertainment, which is put together in France and features the best Vegas type entertainment I have yet seen on any cruise ship. Although the entertainment is included in your cruise fare, it is like enjoying the best of Las Vegas shows each evening and not paying $125 extra per person to view them.
Cruising remains the best vacation value today. Remember, 90 percent of your vacation is paid up-front before you leave home because it includes your meals on-board, all entertainment, and lodging. Your stateroom is made up each morning and you enjoy fresh towels each day.
I get into these details because some of you don’t think you want to cruise. I hope some of today’s comments may change that attitude.
On our MSC cruise we also enjoyed having five Baseball Greats on-board. They were: Stan Bahsen, Jessie Barfied, Cookie Rojas, Randy Hundley and Gary Peters. In several sessions they spun interesting stories about their lives while playing major league baseball. They also signed photos and baseballs for those who wanted then. We brought home a signed ball for grandson John, who is 9, and he was ecstatic.
During some of the days at sea Norma and I enjoyed sitting on the pool deck in an area that displayed and served real Italian Gelato. Yummy!
Where did we cruise to? After two wonderful, restful days at sea we docked in one of the Caribbean favorites, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We had visited here several times in the past, so didn’t take any shore tours.
We did, however, take a taxi into the main part of town, which remains loaded with shops of all variety and enjoyed a nice lunch at the Green House, located at the waterfront. Afterward we taxied back to the pier and purchased a few gifts to take to family back home. We then returned to the MSC Poesia and sat on our balcony facing the town and yacht harbor and relaxed in the beautiful 78-degree afternoon temperatures.
The next morning we docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here, Norma and I booked a tour to visit the El Yunque Rain Forrest. This is a four-hour excursion that takes you past wonderful palm lined beaches and heads into the Puerto Rican rain forest climbing to 3,600 feet where the plants, trees and flowers sparkle in the higher altitude and cooler temperatures. Later we returned to San Juan and had lunch across from our ship’s pier at the Sheraton Hotel’s Chicago Burger outside restaurant. We then returned to our ship and again sat on the balcony until the ship sailed out of the picturesque harbor, past 600-year-old forts and palaces from another era.
Our third and last port of call was Nassau in the Bahamas. The MSC Poesia docked right in the middle of town, so we walked off the ship and decided to take a tour around the island. This included the town of Nassau, which now has about 200,000 people and over to one of the star resorts of the area — Atlantis. This is a complete large resort, which offers several activities for the entire family in a deluxe setting as well as one of the largest casinos in the Atlantic and Caribbean. We walked around this sprawling place for awhile before our driver took us back to the docks so we could once again board our beautiful ship.
This was our last night aboard ship and we were treated to an amazing last supper with all the trimmings as well as a fantastic Broadway show in the theater.
The next morning we had docked once again in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and we left the ship and transferred to the airport for our flight home. It was a perfect trip on a perfect ship. Try MSC sometime. Their 13 luxury ships cruise the Mediterranean, Baltic, Near East, Transatlantic and Caribbean.