Friday, December 23, 2011

Poesia at Sea & Ft Lauderdale

Did I mention how much I love seas days? After our departure from Montego Bay, Jamaica at about 2:30pm, we enjoyed more "sea time" then the next day - all day was a "sea day". I have to admit that this trip was a great experience, and my son and I had some excellent father-son bonding time, however; I think I put too much of a work-load on myself with video and photos. My expectations are to produce the best possible content for my audience, and I did a few things different on this cruise. Usually I'll conduct many interviews withe the crew and staff, but on this trip I did only a few interviews. You'll just have to wait and see how it all comes together. I want to see how it all comes together, I never know exactly how the videos will turn out until I start editing. An example of something I have never done before was to produce a music video, which I'm happy to say....I got the video footage I was wanting and I think when it's all edited together it will put a smile on your face. To say the least, I wore myself out on this trip. I think my son Jacob had a great time! The kids program onboard is very good and they have plenty of activities for the kids. That was another fun video I made.....I had my son host a review of the kids program onboard the MSC Poesia.

Back to our "sea day", for some reason time seemed to slow down, which is a good thing. The weather was perfect and there was no wind on deck, it was the perfect conditions for making video. We arrived into Ft Lauderdale early in the morning, December 23rd. Disembarkation was simple. We had some breakfast then headed down to the gangway and out to Customs. We breezed through Customs and waiting outside was our Courier to pick up our large piece of luggage by a company called Lugless and The courier was even so kind as to drop us off at the airport. I hope you watch our videos, listen to our audio talk show segments and read our full review of this experience aboard the MSC Poesia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poesia At Sea and Montego Bay

All day Tuesday we were at sea which is my favorite time to be on a cruise ship. It's when a ship is "at sea" when it is doing what it was built for. I love the subtle motion of the ship and the sea air, the nice breeze and all the activities happening around the ship. Poesia rides the sea well. I might have to take a vacation to rest from this trip, because I've been running full-steam, and have not taken much "ME" time. Of course my son is with me so I have to make sure he is having fun. Speaking of my son, he swam in the pools on deck from about 8:30am till 3:45pm. He got a little sun, but he's ok.

Today, Wednesday, we were in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I had pre-arranged to go on the ZipLine with Jamaica Zipline Adventure Tours. We were suppose to meet a representative at 9:00am but they didn't show up until about 10:00am, so Jacob got a little bored waiting in the terminal, but he was excited when we were on our way up into the hills for the Zipline Adventure. The road up into the hills was full of giant potholes, and part of the road was gravel and at times I was wondering where our driver was taking us. It was a very rough ride to the site. They treated us very well on this tour, once we arrived at the site. We went through orientation, signed a waiver, got fitted with our gear for zipping. Then we got into an army six-wheel-drive vehicle and made our way up the hill further. I thought the ride to the site was rough, but this ride was so rough we had to have a helmet. (it was an Adventure). This zipline has five courses, and they claim they have the longest zipline in the Caribbean, but I think Royal Caribbean's Labadee zip is longer. We had two guides assist us for the duration of our zipping. One of the guy's had a scary nickname...."Trouble"....but he was cool. I can't explain enough how much my son enjoyed this experience! He is going to be talking about this for years. I had fun too. About halfway through the tour, they offered us fresh coconut juice, pineapple and sugarcane. What was really interesting about this excursion was the ecological information our guides shared with us about the jungle and the plants. The rough roads aside, this was a very fun experience!

Upon returning to the MSC Poesia, My son and I had lunch in the dining room. I had an interesting sword fish appetizer that was very tasty and uniquely prepared, then I enjoyed a delicious, fresh salmon My hat goes off to MSC for excellent dining. I did find some time to rest after lunch, and then it was time for dinner. Tomorrow we are at sea again all day which I love, however; I'm going to be scrambling to get last-minute video shots.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poesia Roatan

My impressions of the MSC Poesia
I've read many passenger reviews of Poesia on Cruise Critic and various message boards, and there were many negative comments so I was very interested in experiencing first-hand what an MSC cruise was like and finally here I am cruising the MSC Poesia. I have enjoyed the ship and the crew onboard. The dining has been excellent, the crew work very hard and I wasn't sure about the spa, but I am now hooked. I spoke with a couple today at lunch who owned a popular cruise franchise - I knew which one because it was advertised on their shirts - and they had some negative things to say about the level of service. I asked them for specifics and I was given the same lame reasoning that I've read from other people offering their "glass half empty" response. The true is, many Americans just don't understand the international "European" way of service. When traveling in Europe, you can expect prompt, efficient service, yet in may appear to Americans to be abrupt and sometimes even rude. If these "glass half empty" Americans would be exposed to the world as it is, and not just the American "bubble" of expectations, they would appreciate some of the intricacies of world travel and perhaps the International, "European" culture. I'm trying not to say "small-minded", but oops there it is, I said it, many America travelers don't get it. Having traveled the world, I can appreciate the culture here aboard the MSC Poesia, which has deep roots in Italy and all over Europe. The MSC brand is like the Carnival Cruise Line of Europe, which is very recognizable, but not very well known here in the American market. Back to this couple I spoke with, I asked them about their complaints and found them to be very small-minded comments from people who really need to travel the world more, and the more I talked with them, the more they agreed their negative comments were not valid. MSC truly offers a fascinating product, yes it's mass-market, but I think they deliver a quality product that more Americans should experience.

On this cruise I have been impressed with the dining, the quality and taste of the food. Admittedly, I have not experienced the entertainment yet, because I get so tired in the evenings, but tonight I'm going to make an effort to see the least part of the show. I've also been impressed with the ship's decor, the brass handrails, the artwork, and the use of glass and marble. The layout of the deck plan takes a little getting use to, but I think the passenger flow is very good. Our stateroom was a little smaller than I expected, but it is comfortable and quiet. I often hear about how slow the ship's internet is, but I have found it to be acceptable. The ship seems to ride the seas very smooth, and without question the crew keeps the ship spotless and well maintained.

Today in Roatan, my son and I met with a friend I have had since 1999 Dr. Glen Solomon. Glen is the founder of the Majken Broby Children's Home, an orphanage in here in Roatan since about 1981. In 1999, I lead a group of 225 passengers on a ship called the SeaBreeze which stopped in Roatan. We produced a big event here in Roatan where we offered a concert with musicians, singers and a speaker. A big tent was erected at the location of the orphanage, and the governor of the island let all the kids out of school that day to have a marching band and parade thru town. It was a big event here in Roatan and Glen Solomon was an instrumental part of making that event a success. What a pleasure it was to see Dr. Solomon again and to visit the sight of the orphanage. I gave Dr. Solomon a case of Kids Against Hunger food to distribute to some of the more needy families here in Roatan, and he said it will go to good use. The Administrator of the orphanage said that the KAH food will be very useful when they have their Christmas gathering of the very poor at the church. Many families will greatly appreciate the gift of KAH food. I was particularly interested in exposing my son Jacob to this orphanage where he can see first-had how there are kids who don't have a Mom and a Dad. Additionally, my son Jacob, saw what "real" poverty is like, and that he is blessed with a mom and a dad who love him and his life is pretty good, relatively speaking.

I didn't eat much for dinner tonight because there has been so much great food the last couple of days. My son Jacob has been plugging-in to the kids program onboard the MSC Poesia, and he has enjoyed the activities so far. I'm going to make a video of Jacob with his review of the kid's program onboard.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

MSC Poesia Cozumel

Docked in Cozumel today. The day couldn't have gone better! I met with the Cruise Director this morning and made arrangements for the many video shots I'll need. The big plan for today in Cozumel was to swim with the dolphins with a company called Dolphin Discovery. We had the Royal Swim package which was truly an amazing experience. I think my son was swimming in the water with the dolphins for at least an hours, they played and danced together, then Jacob hung onto the fins of two dolphins as they pulled him through the water. Two dolphins even pushed him by his feet and raised him out of the water like he was on a what an adventure! These dolphins were even able to push my mass out of the water. It is a beautiful day today in Cozumel with a temp of about 80 degrees. I'm looking forward to this evening and I'll try to make it to the show tonight.

Key West MSC Poesia

Our first port is Key West. I think got off the ship for only about two hours to walk around and take few pictures. If you've seen some of my past videos, I have to's not easy shooting those videos sometimes, lots retakes to get it right. You never know what people will do in the background. I had some woman do the rabbit ears thing behind me while I was conducting an I had to do it again. Maybe I'll run it anyways? I have very much enjoyed the dining and the cruise experience so far, however; my brain gets very tired and busy with all the video shooting I need to get and I also have to make sure my son is having fun either swimming or hooked up with the kids program. I haven't been as productive as I would like, but I still have five days or so. Last night after Key West was formal night, so my son, Jacob, put his sport coat and tie on....he looked nice. I still have not been to a show at night because I'm so tired by about 8,9,10pm. Currently we are enroute to Cozumel, it's a beautiful morning. I think we are going to steam, shower, then I have a meeting with the Cruise Director at 9:00am. More later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Boarded the MSC Poesia

December 16th - Ft Lauderdale Embarkation day.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Ft Lauderdale just off of 17th and had a very pleasant night. The suites was wonderful, on the 11th floor overlooking the port where the ships dock. We woke up to see our ship docked, and a few other ships including the Pacific Princess, the Seven Seas Mariner and the Zuiderdam. Embarkation process was simple and the process was only about 20 minutes. Soon we were crossing the gangway and boarding the MSC Poesia. Our stateroom was a little smaller than I expected, but the room, although compact, has everything we need to make it our home for the week. Onboard the MSC Poesia was familiar because I visited the ship about a year ago, so it wasn't difficult navigating the various lounges and restaurants. I'm traveling with my ten-year-old son, and he wanted to get plugged-in to the kids programs which started around 8pm. We had dinner first seating at 6pm, just after boat drill. Regarding the boat drill, I noticed that many passengers didn't take the drill seriously or follow directions. From my perspective, the crew manning our boat station didn't enforce too much structure, and many passengers in my area just stood around talking, or didn't bring their life jacket. Perhaps it was because many of the instruction over the PA system were in multiple languages. Back to dinner. I'm looking forward to experiencing the dining because of the strong Italian heritage of this family-owned cruise line. I love Italian cuisine, and after my first evening at dinner, I was not disappointed. My son and I were on deck as the ship left Ft Lauderdale. Maybe it was because we departed late at about 8pm, but I didn't hear the hoopla from the condominiums as we passed them on our way out to sea. Usually there are horns and whistles, but this time very little activity. As much as I wanted to see the production show tonight, I was too tired. My son had fun at his first kids meeting with games and dancing, I picked him up at 10pm, then time to wind-down in our stateroom. Tomorrow we are in Key West.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ft Lauderdale

December 15th, 10:30pm - had a very busy day which started out very early in the morning 3:30am. Flew to Milwaukee, the to Ft Lauderdale. I tried to sleep on the plane, but am not sure if I slept or not. My parents were waiting for us in Ft Lauderdale airport, and we took off to check in at our hotel the Embassy Suites on 17th, which, by the way, is the ultimate pre or post cruise hotel in Ft Lauderdale. We are on the 11th floor and have a view of the port, so it will be fun waking up tomorrow morning to see the ships. I made a stop to my favorite bookstore, Bluewater Books & Charts, which has tons of nautical and maritime books. I got the latest Douglas Ward Berlitz 2012 book.

Today I met with Phil Allen, the Executive Director of Port Everglades. I've had him on my show in the past, but only over the phone so it was nice to meet with him in-person and talk with him about this bustling port. Then I met with Uf Tukel, who is the President and owner of iCruise. I talked with Mr. Tukel about his iCruise App which is the best in the cruise industry.

Next we went to our hotel, Embassy Suites to freshen-up before meeting with some friends and family at "The Melting Pot", a restaurant that specializes in fondue. I had never heard of this restaurant, and I was very pleased to experience this fun, creative way to dine. We had great conversation, the food was tasty, fresh and plentiful. So for those looking for an interesting place to enjoy dinner before or after your cruise in and out of Ft Lauderdale, The Melting Pot is a great choice.

Looking forward to a busy day tomorrow as we have breakfast here in the Embassy Suites. I am meeting again with family and friends for breakfast then off to the port to board the MSC Poesia.

Pre-Cruise Travels

December 15th, I'm heading to Ft Lauderdale with my son, Jacob. We are meeting with a few people in Ft Lauderdale to interview for Cruising Authority including the Director of Port Everglades and the owner of iCruise. I'm also happy to meet up with some friends and my parents will be picking us up at the airport and spending some time with us. At this very moment I'm in between flights in Milwaukee waiting for our flight to Ft Lauderdale. I can say enough how much I appreciate the services of a luggage shipping company called LugLess at wow, it is such a relief and a luxury to travel so light and not have to check our bags at the terminal. No need to go to baggage-claim either because Lugless is delivering our luggage directly to the hotel where we are staying in Ft Lauderdale. It's super convenient and offers peace-of-mind knowing that our luggage is cared for and delivered without all the hassle normally associated with lugging those larger pieces of luggage. Another peace-of-mind is knowing that we have travel insurance with Access America. You never know what could happen during a trip, and you might need special medical help, and with Access America, I don't have to worry about the costs of injury or any medical attention we might need, if some unforeseen accident occurs.

Ok, enough of the sales pitch....Tomorrow, December 16th my son and I embark on the MSC Poesia. MSC has said they put in for visitor passes for my parents, so that will be fun to show them around our ship before we leave. Here's some insider information for those who follow my talk show and videos....there is a HUGE-level of planning that goes into putting the content together for these shows. My head is buzzing with all the creative shots I'll need, and on this trip I'm trying some new ideas. We are planning our first Cruising Authority iCruise Treasure Hunt, where I will be hiding a special wooden magic wand somewhere in the western Caribbean, and I'll be creating a treasure map. The treasure map must be followed in order to locate the magic wand, and the first person to locate the wand, follow the directions and ship it back to me, will win a brand new Apple iPad, courtesy of cool is that? I'm also planning to produce a music video on this cruise which should be fun. I'll be conducting a special study during this cruise entitled "The Science of Romance at Sea". I'm a happily married man, so of course I am not a participant, rather I will be working with three couples during the cruise onboard the MSC should be a fun study. Additionally, I will be featuring a little history of entertainment at sea going back to the days of the trans-Atlantic liners. Maritime Historian and author John Maxtone-Graham will be offering some input as well as Douglas Ward, the Author of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.

I hope you'll continue to follow this blog as we cruise aboard the MSC Poesia.