My husband made the decision to drag our family on our first cruise. I was not happy about going. Like many other people who had never taken one before, I was positive that this style of vacation would not fit with any of my needs. Why would I want to be trapped on a ship and told where to go and when to be back? I was positive I would be completely bored after the first day and I explored and experienced everything there was to do onboard. I thought the exact same food for 7 days would become tiresome; that the rooms were so small that we would get on each others nerves; that our teenagers would be bored to tears. So, acting like a petulant 16 year old girl, being made to spend time with their parents, I went kicking and screaming, positive it would be a complete disaster. We embarked in Fort Lauderdale on the Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Poesia, based on itinerary and price point, for Christmas 2010, on a Western Caribbean cruise.
When we saw the ship for the first time, I admit to feeling “a bit” interested, though I was not willing to admit it to anyone. The boarding process was easy and once onboard I was struck by how elegant the ship was with all the dark woods and brass fixtures. We made our way to our cabins, going through all the main areas and I realized just how big the ship felt, especially as it was the first time I had ever been onboard a cruise ship. We dropped off our carry on bags and discovered that the Staterooms are organized so well, that we could easily store everything we brought. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised.
Like everyone else, after travelling all day, we were hungry and headed to the buffet. Wow. The selection was amazing. Everything was being freshly made right in front of us. Our three teenage sons were almost dancing at their food choices. One of my biggest concerns had just been alleviated in that the buffets had so much variety, I would not have to worry about teenage starvation kicking in. By the time we were finished, the kids were so excited that they wanted to go off and explore the ship by themselves. I was worried. What if they got lost, got separated, got in trouble? I took a breathe and we arranged to meet at a specific spot on deck, when the ship was setting sail and off they went.
My husband and I explored every inch of the Poesia that was accessible to the public, from bow to stern, from port to starboard, taking pictures along the way. It was beautiful! The brass was constantly being cleaned and polished. There were small quiet nooks, like the library, where my oldest ended up spending a large portion of the trip; there were large theatres and quaint martini bars. The variety of spaces just went on and on. There was Caribbean music on the pool deck and quiet lounge music in sunning areas at the front of the deck. There was shade if you wanted it as well. The smiling crew were everywhere and yet unobtrusive.
Over the next 2 days, all of my fears about cruising melted away in rapid succession by the actual experience I was having onboard. Every negative thing I had thought simply was no where near the actual truth of the experience of cruising. By the morning of day 3, after interacting with my happy, talkative and excited teenagers, more than I had in the prior 2 years, I was a complete convert.
How is it possible that no one had ever told me about how much fun you had when on a cruise ship? How is it possible that no one explained you could do as much as you want, be as busy as you wanted to be, or do nothing at all? That you could be a social butterfly or sit back and watch everything? That no matter what was offered from entertainment to excursions, an entire family; from babies and new parents, toddlers and young kids, teenagers and young adult, parents and grandparents, all of them could experience the same event, in modified forms to suite everyone’s individual needs!
The MSC Poesia was the perfect size for a family new to cruising. It was not so big that I was uncomfortable with my teenagers being off on their own, but it wasn’t so small that they felt bored. By day two, they had met new friends and were exceptionally busy socializing, though we met nightly for dinner in the dining room for gourmet meals and discussions about our day and plans for the evening and following day. They smiled more and laughed more, spent more time with their parents than they had in a long time. If I had known cruising would have had that side effect, I would have done it years earlier! I was so happy to have that family reconnection again. I will never forget how cruising with MSC, changed the course of how we communicated as a family.
I originally started the cruise thinking the only thing that could possibly be positive about it would be the itinerary and as it turned out, that ended up being just a bonus to the actual cruising aspect of it. I discovered that cruising was not about the destination at all, but the journey you experience along the way!
When I came back home after this amazing experience, I felt like a cruise evangelist, preaching the gospel of cruising to anyone who would listen. I knew that based on my own experience that people had so many misconceptions, that they just needed to experience it personally, to understand the value of cruising. Not only was it exceptionally affordable, especially with the MSC “kids sail free” program, but the gift of giving us dedicated family time, would not have been possible in any other type of vacation. Everybody was happy at the same time, both teenagers and parents!
Whenever I get the chance to tell my story about how I started cruising, I jump at it. Cruising on the MSC Poesia was like experiencing a Summer Camp for grown ups. It was the perfect start to inspire me to a lifetime of knowing that I belong on this elegant Cruise line, with a dedicated and endearing staff that went out of their way to take our experience from excellent to completely over the top.
The second last day, my youngest two sons came rushing up to us at breakfast, almost bursting with excitement and animation.
“Mom! Mom! You are NOT going to believe this!”
Their eyes were shining and they were looking back and forth between each other with news so big, so profound, that their words were tumbling all over themselves. They were speaking in raised voices and they were talking over each other, trying to tell their story.
“Seriously, you are NOT going to believe this!”
By this time, the people at nearby tables had turned and were listening to them as well.
“What is it? What happened?!”, I said, worried about what I was going to hear.
“MOM! Did you know that when you call room service and order a platter of cookies? They BRING you a PLATTER of cookies!!”
Not only did we burst out laughing, hearing this, but so did everyone else sitting near to us, who had been listening.
They looked at each other with a shared memory of enormous value, with what I am sure were unshed tears in their eyes; with the gratitude and disbelief that can only come from feeding a teenage boy, then added with a wavering voice full of emotion, “And Mom, they brought a glass of milk…and I didn’t even have to ask.”
And that moment was the perfect ending to a perfect start to what will be a lifelong relationship and love for MSC and for cruising as a way of life, not just as a vacation. I can not repay your company for what you gave me on our first family cruise but if my story will help bring people on board then I will be happy to share it with others.