Get Away With Fran

January 25, 2010

Aboard the MSC Poesia

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , — admin @ 8:22 pm

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This week I am onboard the MSC Poesia (Italian for poetry) cruising the Caribbean, accompanied by my mom. This ship is part of the Italian line MSC Cruises, known more to Europeans than Americans. And this is actually the first time I have cruised on one of the MSC ships (though I’ve done nearly 100 cruises).

Sophia Loren is the godmother of this vessel, which is wintering in the Caribbean with prices that have attracted a very international crowd, some sailings going for under $500 a week for inside cabins. Several Americans I talked to came onboard driven by price (there’s even a program where families can bring kids for free).

The cruise line has been criticized before in the area of service. And though I came on with an open attitude, it’s hard to hide stuff from a journalist, and service in general has been uneven.

One example of many: At lunch yesterday my mother spilled her ice tea. We were at the Lido buffet and there were several crew members nearby. One came over and placed a sign on the floor to warn people it was wet. It was a good five minutes, however, before someone brought a rag to sop up the mess on the table. Still, our dining room team (at dinner) and cabin stewards have been great.

Food I would categorize as just OK, again good at times and not great at others, though I do agree with the president of the line, Rick Sasso (formerly of Celebrity Cruises) who has bragged the pizza is the best at sea (it’s delish!).

Entertainment is an area where MSC shines. There’s an excellent singer who does everything from Barbara Streisand to opera. There’s a juggler who whirls things so fast you can hardly keep track. And the acrobats are top notch (including a pair of women contortionists). A can can number by the dancers in the first night’s show had Mom complaining, “Enough with the bottoms already.” But really it was all well (and tastefully) done to please the international crowd.

January 23, 2010

Swimming Pools, Movie Stars

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:41 pm

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My mom is accompanying me this week as I head off on a Caribbean cruise on the MSC Poesia. And thanks to her flight getting into Fort Lauderdale nice and early we had an extra treat yesterday, a chance to run over to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, where we snagged last-minute $29 tickets to see the Miami City Ballet. Well, snag is kind of exaggeration as it turns out the theater was, sadly, pretty darn empty, which means people missed an amazing performance of “The Golden Section” by Twyla Tharp and several well-performed Balanchine numbers too.

Today we decided with a few hours to kill before the cruise, we’d take one of the water taxis around Fort Lauderdale to see the canals that have gained the city status as “Venice of America.” The tour included a whole bunch of millionaire’s homes and corny commentary, but was a nice diversion.

Getting off at Los Olas Blvd., to check out the gallery scene we got another little surprise: Actress Jane Seymour was doing a show of her works at the Wentworth Gallery. And she was there. I chatted a tad with her about her status as one of seven godmother’s of the world’s largest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. She said she had just done a New Year’s cruise and had a great time onboard with her family.

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After our celebrity sighting, mom and I headed off to the Poesia, where my first impression is what a pretty ship. I’m liking the cabin, all done up in red. And the public areas have a nice contemporary appeal.

It always cracks me up when you embark from Fort Lauderdale, the largest cruise port in America (I know I said this in an earlier blog but they’re real proud of that here) and people in the apartments and condos near the harbor stand onshore to wave and blow horns and ring bells – for every ship that comes by. You’d think it would get old after awhile with three or four or eight or whatever ships a day. But nope, there they were as usual this evening as we passed by and just as enthusiastic as ever.

More of course as we spend a week onboard cruising the Caribbean.

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