Illustration courtesy MSC Cruises
It’s fall, and that means the Caribbean cruise season is about to get into full swing as ships reposition from Alaska and Europe to call instead in the land of warm, sandy beaches.  Returning once again to the Caribbean from Europe is MSC Cruises, which this year is basing their MSC Poesia out of Fort Lauderdale for a series of Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

MSC, a major player in the Mediterranean cruise market, has had a bit of a bumpy ride in their past forays into the winter Caribbean market.  Predominantly American passengers have been turned off by some of MSC’s cultural differences – having to pay for a bottle of water after dinner, for instance – and MSC has responded by trying to ‘Americanize’, as best they can, their North American itineraries.  They’re listening.  And they’re fine-tuning.  And each year is better than the last.

If you want to experience a unique, European cruise line with truly stunning ships, a close-to-home MSC cruise just might be what the doctor ordered.  Make no mistake about it – this is not the “Olive Garden” – these are real Italian cruise ships.  If you’ve been to Italy, you’re probably already on your way to MSC’s website.  If not, prepare yourself for a cruise experience that is different – but just as enjoyable – as the North American lines you are used to.

In keeping with MSC’s uniqueness, they offer a truly unique Western Caribbean itinerary – Island Treasures and Ancient Temples.

Departing January 16, 2010, the MSC Poesia sails from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West; Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; At Sea; and Nassau, Bahamas before returning to Ft. Lauderdale. 

What’s unique about this itinerary?  For starters, the ship bypasses the overrun destination of Cozumel, Mexico altogether – opting instead to anchor off Playa Del Carmen, just across the strait.  Passengers interested in seeing Mayan ruins like Tulum would have to cross via ferry from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen anyway, so MSC’s decision to anchor their ship right there saves those passengers about three total hours of travel time.  Playa Del Carmen is also closer to Cancun, which many tourists flock to for a day of shopping and sandy beaches.

Also unique?  Key West.  Popular on many four-and-five day cruises, Key West is noticeably absent from most seven-night cruises – which is too bad, because the city is absolutely beautiful, and of course, the Key Lime pie is not to be missed.

The final unique feature?  Nassau.  Most seven-day Western Caribbean cruises seldom go farther east than Jamaica.  If you’ve been to Nassau before, this may or may not be a draw for you, but for those who haven’t, this unique itinerary allows you to see a remarkable amount of the Caribbean in only a week.

For more information and pricing, visit the MSC Cruises website. 


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