MSC Poesia Tour Index

Back in May, I was invited by MSC Cruises to visit Opera, their ship based in Southampton from 2011 during the summer.  Opera, at that time, was receiving some very bad press after her breakdown because the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued a statement saying she was detained two days earlier, despite the fact she hadn't been due to sail until the day of my visit.  I asked Isabella if there was any chance of visiting Orchestra and Poesia and she said she'd put me on the list.  The following month another PR person said the same.  Fast forward to September and while some people knew they were going, I heard nothing until the 5th when Isabella messaged me via Twitter then sent an email the following day.  After the gorgeous Opera, it would be nice to visit another of their stunning vessels.  I had fallen in love with Opera instantly.

Poesia was no stranger to Southampton when she returned on the 14th September 2011.  It was her third call since the previous September.  Her last, in May, was supposed to be with Opera, the only time two MSCs were scheduled to be in together.  She would also return in 2012.  Due to the boat show preparations, annoyingly Dock Gate 8 was closed so I had to get a taxi to Dock Gate 10.  Rochelle remembered me from May, greeting me as Denise, the wind up Isabella had done on her.  I was surprised she remembered and she said she'd never forget.  Most were travel agents as usual though there were a few from the media and some ordinary people.  When I went through, the lady told me I was on the list twice.  I noted I was classed as 'Consumer' on one and 'Student' on the other.  This time you went through security to check in where they would take the passport and issue a pass.  Ryan, who had been on my visit before remembered me.  They laid on juices and water as we waited.  Isabella phoned to ask if I was still going so I told her I was there already.  I'd seen Caryll Young breifly a bit earlier and we chatted a while before she rejoined her friends.  The Ocean Liner Society were there with their seven and I was told the World Ship Society had sixteen places.  

The first group to be called was TUI, and Isabella told us we'd be tacking onto theirs so we all followed Ryan and our guide up to the ship, entering on Dante Deck (6) then going down the steps of the Rendez-Vous Reception, the atrium and heart of the ship, where we'd begin our tour.  Past reception and up the stairs to Dante deck (6) and the Teatro Carlo Felice.  This is the only ship in the fleet with a purple theatre and that is because of being named in in the UK (Dover) and purple is associated with royalty.  Past the Poker Room and onto the Zebra Bar, and, from the daily programme I acquired from reception, is where many quizzes and games take place.  It's a very spacious room and even has a staircase near the entrance.  No idea where it went to because I didn't have time for a nose.  Rushed through shops, which is home to the Bar Dei Poeti, so only a couple of quick photos before rushing after the group again.  We spent several minutes at the MSC Travel Agency, where you book shore excursions.  They had everything in several languages as well as Italian which is very useful.  We were allowed to take one to see what sort of things they offered as well as prices.  

Zipped through Bar Smeraldo, though while I stopped to take photos of it, PR lady Samantha Preece was looking at somthing else.  Both of us had to hunt our group, which were on Manzoni deck (7) in Il Grappolo d'Oro, which is the wine bar.  This was a medium-sized room, not leaving much free space to take photos without our group being the stars.  Another mad rush to Kaito Sushi Bar, although I stopped in the Cyber Cafe and then to take a shot of the atrium before running to catch up again, which is extremely painful with my current back problem. Card Room and Library were skipped but I managed to pop my head into the Card Room.  Casino Royal was next and very red.  It is also a smoking area.  Unlike many ships, MSC still has a more relaxed attitude towards smoking.  Personally, as a former smoker, I think it is safer to do it inside, even having one designated room, making it a more controlled enviroment.  Outside is far more hazardous, one gust of wind blowing it out of your hand and going overboard, landing who knows where.  Non-smokers want to dictate things but give and take works wonders instead of causing resentment because whatever the cruise line opts to do is never good enough.  

But back to the casino.  They had some very interesting sculptures, one of which I just had to take a phot of because I've never seen anything like it on a cruise ship and will be featured on the corresponding page.  More playing catch up as we went up to Foscolo deck (13) and the Aurea Spa.  It was far too crowded with our and Rochelle's group so I only took photos of a few things.  More marvellous artwork on the walls and sculptures.  Before you can use the gym, you must sign a disclaimer form.  It's a good idea, thanks to the ridiculous compensation culture where many sue over nothing.  It had become quite hot so I was glad when our next stop was the deck, passing the Piraña Bar.  While the others continued down there, I went up a deck to Pascoli deck for some better shots, and checked with Ryan it was okay to catch up with them at the other end, rejoining as we entered the Villa Pompeiana, which was the buffet.  Unlike the Opera visit, we just raced through this to go up one deck which was an awful shame.  On Pascoli it was Virtual Games, a video arcade, the S32 disco.  A signature on MSC is open deck at the back so if you get hot, you can step outside for air.  Ryan told me they sometimes have the doors open to let cool air in.  Many modern ships don't have anything like this, so a traipse to breathe!  I liked that feature on Opera so was glad the larger ships have it.  

Back outside and a quick turn around Alfieri deck (15), which also leads to the Sport deck (16), behind the funnel.  Again, no time to stop and look at anything.  Back down to Manzoni for a presentation in the Pigalle Lounge.  They had technical problems but did show a video featuring twenty-four hours on the Fantasia.  Due to the technical issues, they just told us about the MSC product with a Q&A session afterwards.  One elderly man did go on a bit, first about tips, saying Costa enforce them and MSC should do likewise, then the MSC Club, the loyalty programme.  We did wonder if he was a plant.  I asked about their next offer - upgrade to all-inclusive for £1 - but it applies new bookings only as I suspected - bugger!  We then all followed Lee to the La Fontane restaurant for lunch.  I really liked the chairs in here with their heart-shaped backs.  I finally got to meet Melissa Collins Pell.  The choice on the menu was greater than we'd had on Opera and were told we could order as much as we liked so I had a starter, panini, main course and dessert.  Melissa had starter and main so asked for another salmon after mine arrived and received it.  We could also have anything to drink.  One small niggle was our water glasses would run dry and it was difficult getting anyone to refill them.  Afterwards it was time to leave as excursion passengers returned.

Poesia is a very beautiful ship and, although Opera still has my heart, I would book a cruise on this one to gain a fuller experience.  We didn't see any cabins but you just sink into the seats in public rooms because there are that comfortable.  I wanted lunch but didn't want to leave my seat in La Pigalle.  If you want to take your computer there is wi-fi everywhere, including cabins, which you buy by the hour or a 24 hour package.  On MSC, they have three dress codes; Formal, Informal and Casual only their Informal involves no dressing up but is more smart casual.  That is much better than getting back onboard after a long, tiring day ashore then having to put fancy clothes on.  Whatever your language, there will be something which caters to you while shows involve no speaking, only music, dance and pure entertainment.  There are many areas I just loved on Poesia because like the interiors on all their ships, much thought has gone into the design, decor and art.  They have the Wow factor, to me at least.

Many thanks to Isabella, Rochelle, Ryan and MSC for more wonderful hospitality and making this visit possible.

Alfieri Deck (15)
Pascoli Deck (14)
Foscolo Deck (13)
Manzoni Deck (7)
Dante Deck (6)
Petrarca Deck (5)

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© Patricia Dempsey 14th September 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission