|Suzanne Somers & MSC Poesia:
Poetry at Sea
"Poetry at Sea"
by Linda Coffman
— Actress, entrepreneur, fitness guru,
and... poet. Poet? Most people who know Suzanne Somers from
her appearance as the elusive "Blonde in the T-Bird" in the movie
"American Graffiti," in the role of Chrissy Snow in television's
"Three's Company" and as the leader of a natural health trend for
women, may not know that Ms. Somer's initial artistic endeavor was a
book of poetry. In fact, in her first television appearance she
discussed her poems with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."
So, Ms. Somers was a natural choice to officially welcome MSC
Cruises' MSC Poesia to America for her first season of Caribbean
cruises. In addition to her official duty at a ceremony in which
plaques and keys were exchanged between MSC Cruises, Port
Everglades, and Broward County dignitaries, Ms. Somers hosted "The
Suzanne Cruise" with 900 of her fans. She brought along fitness
experts to present seminars and treated her group to a Las Vegas-style
musical performance in the MSC Poesia's Carlo Felice Theatre. In
addition to singing, Ms. Somers showed her comedic side with a
gentleman plucked from the audience. He was clearly delighted and
was awarded with a Thighmaster for his participation.
As a bonus, our 5-night sailing was also the President's Cruise
with Richard Sasso, CEO & President of MSC Cruises USA on board
MSC Poesia and
hosting activities and events for passengers. Cruise Diva had an
opportunity to sit down with him to discuss the fastest growing
cruise line in the history of the cruise industry and how the
Caribbean experience differs from an MSC cruise in Europe. While MSC Cruises
are proudly Italian, there are some changes made to cater to North American tastes and
expectations, particularly in the way of food service. For instance,
there is no charge for soft serve ice cream and pizza and the buffet
dining hours are extended. Coffee is available 24 hours. The
entertainment is designed for international audiences with an
emphasis on the talent and expertise of performers. In the spa,
there is complimentary access to the thermal suite, for which there
is a charge in the Mediterranean due to higher demand. We agree with Sasso that Americans will find a unique premium cruise on one of the
cleanest ships at sea when sailing
aboard MSC Poesia.
Christened in Dover, England by Italy's legendary Sophia Loren in
April, 2008, MSC Poesia is a Musica-class ship and essentially
identical in layout to sister-ship
which CruiseDiva.com profiled in March 2009.
Our first impression of MSC Orchestra was mirrored by MSC Poesia. She is an Italian
beauty with an abundance of gleaming marble and brass. In a way, you
could say the décor is a bit retro, but my husband Mel’s description—“upscale
warmth”—sums up the overall feeling.
Upon further inspection, we discovered MSC Poesia's main lounges
are slightly more daring, such as the
deep red hues of the intimate jazz lounge Bar dei Poeti and the
appropriately named Zebra Lounge with its black and white
zebra print on seating, walls, and even carpeting.
At 93,300 tons and with 13 passenger decks, MSC Poesia carries
2,550 passenger based on double occupancy. With their "children sail
free" policy, there are often families aboard and the capacity
exceeds that figure. However, we sailed with 2,612 passengers and
never felt crowded.
192 sq ft inside and a spacious balcony, MSC Poesia’s
Balcony Stateroom 11103
(pictured here) was our very comfortable home on board. Cheerful artwork and deep burgundy fabrics set off
warm wood paneling and creamy wall coverings. Closet doors concealed
more than adequate hanging and storage space with
a bank of drawers, shelves, and personal safe behind one. A dressing table/desk contained more drawers, one
with a built-in hairdryer. In addition, a
flat-screen interactive television was mounted over a corner cabinet that housed the mini-bar refrigerator.
Although the bathroom wasn’t large, it felt bigger than most
standard cruise ship baths due to the
layout of the corner shower with a rounded side. Cabinets beneath the vanity augmented two
wall mounted shelves for toiletries. For Mel, its most important
component was good water pressure and consistent temperature—no
blast of cold water when other passengers turned the water on in
While there are a dozen categories to choose from on MSC Poesia,
accommodations are laid out in five basic configurations: Suites;
Superior Balcony and Balcony Staterooms (Superior balconies facing
aft); and Oceanview and
Interior Staterooms. There are also seventeen wheelchair accessible
accommodations in a variety of categories.
Wander up to deck 15 and you'll find a suite that is designated the “Sophia Loren
Suite”—named for MSC Poesia’s Godmother—and
bears her signature. In fact, each
new ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet has such a suite as Ms. Loren has
christened them all. She uses her suite to relax and entertain
guests when she is on board and, in the event she wishes to sail,
it’s all hers.
Food is a very personal subject and
one that’s hotly debated by cruise passengers. This was good…
That wasn’t... It's all a matter of taste.
|Kaito Sushi Bar
I like Italian food, especially
authentic Italian food.
Unfortunately, many Americans haven’t had the opportunity to visit
Italy and their exposure to “Italian” cuisine has been limited to
Pizza Hut and Olive Garden where pasta is drowned in heavy sauces
and garlic is the only identifiable spice—usually on crusty bread.
The Italian food on MSC Poesia was much lighter—particularly the
spaghetti and other pasta dishes. Some people loved it and some
didn’t. I particularly enjoyed the gnocchi and, for dessert, tiramasu that was to die for. On "lobster night" I again passed on the
crustacean in favor of a delightful veal entree.
We set out to dine in each of MSC Poesia's restaurants and, as a
result, only had dinner in the dining room once during our 5-night
cruise. We tried the
Kaito Sushi Bar Restaurant, the L'Obelisco for steaks, and even the
casual evening buffet and pizza options.
Mel and I don't eat sushi so we weren't initially drawn to the
Kaito Sushi Bar. After taking a look at the menu, which
includes Teriyaki-style beef, chicken, and salmon and Shrimp
Tempura, we decided to give it a try and the dishes, particularly
the shrimp and fried rice, were delicious. What we do prefer for dinner is a good steak
didn’t disappoint us a bit. The entire meal was enjoyable in the aft-facing section
of the buffet restaurant seating area (cordoned off in the evening).
With a view over MSC Poesia’s wake, the setting is divine.
Reservations are required for the specialty restaurants and
a la carte menu pricing is quite reasonable.
Now, about that pizza. Richard Sasso claims it’s the best at sea and we aren’t about to argue.
Baked in special pizza ovens at a temperature of approximately 600°,
we always found piping hot pies available in the afternoon and
evening. Slices went so fast that they didn’t have time to cool
down. That says a lot the variety of the hand made and authentic
variety. At lunch you'll find pan pizza with a thicker crust and for
dinner, the round hand-tossed style. Some of the toppings were new
to me, such as a spicy salami that became my favorite.
Beneath the hot Caribbean sun, MSC Poesia’s two ice cream options
were poolside favorites—soft serve cones outside the Villa Pompeiana buffet restaurant
and a dozen flavors of gelato at the Mojito Bar available in
cups, cones, or sundaes ($1.50-$4). While several lounges are
designated “coffee bars,” specialty coffee drinks can be ordered
ship wide, even at a bar in the buffet.
In addition to restaurant meals, evening cheese and prosciutto
snacks were served in the Il Grappolo D'Oro Wine Bar and MSC Cruises
continues the tradition of lavish midnight buffets. The buffet on Gala Night was truly a sight, with the kind of elaborate
ice and vegetable carvings not often seen these days.
Here's a lunchtime tip.
While the Villa Pompeiana buffet restaurant can get crowded at peak
times, go past the first lines you encounter as you walk aft and
head for the lines in back where there is more seating. The
selections are the same and it's less congested. And do try a
hamburger, which is grilled and served in the regular buffet lines.
Along with the pizza, the hamburgers are the best I've tried on a
Entertainment, Activities, and Itineraries
Cruise Diva's "Live" Blogs
from MSC Poesia: