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By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out & Travelin’™
While many people resolve in the first days of the New Year to eat or drink less, to exercise more, or to be more vigilant about not texting while driving, we have vowed to cruise more in 2013 – for less.
Pursuant to that goal, we discovered that President’s Day weekend is the soonest that we can get away, so we searched the web and found an MSC Caribbean journey that fits both our calendar requirements and our wallet’s limitations.
In the past couple of years, MSC, a 4.5 star Italian cruise line based in Genoa, has had more of a presence in the USA. This winter, from January through April, the MSC Poesia (Poetry) is cruising out of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. Although there are several itineraries, we found a good deal by visiting http://www.msccruisesusa.com, and checking out the Presidents Day February 16-March 2 cruise.
From $1289 per person, cruisers can upgrade to a balcony stateroom at an ocean view rate. Another option is to book a standard balcony and then be upgraded to a superior balcony, but we’re counting our pennies, so we think “buy low, sail high” is the right move. The caveat here is that prospective cruisers must be bold enough to ask for the upgrade when booking. If there is any reluctance upon the part of the operator, ask for a supervisor.
The 14-night cruise, beginning on February 16, leaves Fort Lauderdale and visits Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Falmouth, Jamaica; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI and Nassau, Bahamas. Be aware that Jamaica is one of those countries that is not gay-friendly, so discretion is the key at Falmouth.
A couple of sea days means that you can explore the ship from stem to stern and from port to starboard, taking advantage of the antipasto and fine Italian vintages in the Wine Bar to wile away a lazy afternoon on the Caribbean Sea. In the glamorous main dining room the cuisine is superb and service is friendly and efficient. Each day features a different freshly made pasta with a variety of sauces, so be sure to aim for the “Italian” specialties part of the menu.
Shows and entertainment are decidedly European-style, and the big production numbers feature opera singers and spectacular dancers in a majestic royal-purple hued theater.
The MSC Poesia is the line’s third Musica class ship, and offers the latest eco-technology to safeguard the environment, without compromising comfort, and luxury ship amenities. Poesia promises luxury cruising at its best – it features a spectacular waterfall with bridges in the foyer, a Zen garden in the sushi bar and a serene 12,000 square foot spa.
Offering exercise equipment, a Turkish bath and steam room, the Aurea Spa might be one of your first stops onboard to rejuvenate and recover from the holiday celebrations.
The glamorous movie-star legend, fabulous Sophia Loren, is the Godmother of the MSC Poesia, which was launched in April of 2008 from Dover, UK. The deal can be secured at 1-877-665-4655, or on the MSC website. (There is a tidal wave of other discounted Caribbean cruises in 2013 on MSC, beginning on January 6th from $499 for a seven-day cruise).
Be sure to let us know at MeetMeOnBoard if you booked this particular cruise, or any of the other deals at MSC, and we welcome your comments about the cruise line.
Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Mike, Joe Ridky and one other person are discussing. Toggle Comments
This year’s summer has brought the cruise industry to some all-time low pricing due to the possibility of yet another recession and the doom-and-gloom realities of the Greek economy and euro. No question, business is down and it is a buyers’ market except for the airline industry. Air rates remain high to Europe and even for domestic travel.
While pricing is down with Alaska Cruises on Holland America starting at $449pp, Disney Cruise lines is offering upgrades from ocean view to balcony (Disney never offers sales like this), and many cruise lines traveling to Europe including airfare (bundling this component into their pricing) to add value and get the customer to buy, there is one deal I found that stands out and was quite amazing!
Norwegian Cruise Line’s remarkable Norwegian Jade has three November and December 10-Day Mediterranean Cruises sailing from from Rome to Greece, Egypt, and Turkey from a remarkably low $499 per person. That’s $50 a day for a European Cruise including meals and entertainment. For you cruise buffs, you also know this is likely one of the finest ships sailing in Europe. One cannot go to Rome and have a pizza and bottle of house wine in a trattoria for $50. On top of this, there is a special added value by CruiseCenter offering a $50 onboard spending credit …now…’That’s Amore!’
IS IT SAFE TO GO TO EUROPE?
Yes. The media is killing not only the worldwide economy with doom-and-gloom but making certain places in Europe sound like they are imploding on themselves. The protests have stopped in Greece and it is “business as usual” . I have just returned from Athens and the Greek Islands this year-all without any incident whatsoever. I have personally traveled to Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and Europe is welcoming travelers with open arms. I was surprised while in Barcelona with news of 25% unemployment that this city seemed to be a total “boom” town. I can tell you assuredly – life is quite good for travelers in Europe. If you can, go now. The deals for cruise vacations are remarkable!
Cruise lines are using two-for-one deals, onboard ship credits, discounted airfares, “free” gratuities, even chocolate-dipped strawberries to jump-start business as they cope with a tsunami of bad news this year.
It’s crunch time for the cruise industry. Following the Costa Concordia disaster, cruise companies have been aggressively lowering rates and ratcheting up promotions to lure back hesitant passengers.
The two biggest companies — Carnival Corporation, the parent of more than a half-dozen lines, including Princess and Costa Cruises, and Royal Caribbean — saw bookings drop by percentages in the midteens in the weeks after the Concordia ran aground off the coast of Isola del Giglio on Jan. 13.
Morning cruise fans,
I get a LOT of emails about different cruises and deals, from a variety of sources. This itinerary struck me as
very unusual (New Orleans to Boston, with several interesting stops) and I know there is some great pricing available on it. I’ve seen it advertised as low as $549/person/inside. That’s only $45/day. Wow. Check with your favorite agent who might even be able to get you a better deal or some perks.
I’ve personally never sailed NCL, but friends report they enjoyed the experience.
There is also at least one MeetMeOnBoard user (couple) planning to take this trip, connect with them here.
If you book it (or ANY cruise), be sure to update your profile so others gay, lesbian, and friendly cruisers can find you!
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