Since our discreet little assignation a few days ago, I must confess I have been off flirting with another destination in Mexico. You needn’t be jealous! I assure you that it was completely innocent . . . platonic even. Therefore, assuming after a couple of tequilla tasting events in Los Cabos (blog post to follow) I can still reconstruct where we left off, let’s take up the narrative from that point.
OK . . . it is all coming back into focus. We were midway through our discussion of “hardware” and about to transition to “software”. If you are picturing toggle bolts and Firefox browsers, you probably should go back and read Parte Uno. In my previous post, I mentioned spending obscene amounts of time in a dark corner of La Cantina Di Bacco being caressed by an impertinent Cabernet from the hills of Tuscany. But the Divina offers any number of respites such as La Caramella, L’Angolo Dell’Oggetto, Il Gioiello and Caffe’ Italia. Is the “Mediterranean Style” thing beginning to click for you? Caribbean mystique meets European chic! Did I mention that Sophia Loren is the godmother of their fleet?
If you are like me and an aficionado of spa treatments (the full body massage being my personal treatment of choice), you will certainly enjoy the MSC Aurea Spa and Fitness area. I do take umbrage at their unauthorized use of my likeness in the picture above. Oh well, as one of the “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful” crowd, I suppose one should remain sanguine about such things. Can you really blame them?
The time has come to move from facilities to features. One feature I place a premium on is a great itinerary. Try these on for size. If you like the western Caribbean, Divina calls at Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. If the eastern Caribbean floats your boat, try Philipsburg, St. Maartan; San Juan, Puerto Rico and again Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. There are additional itineraries with other fascinating ports of call called Caribbean Enchantment, Caribbean Wonders and Southern Caribbean. For details about every itinerary, there is an online brochure which is available here. And if you fall in love with Divina and can’t bear the thought of separation, you can follow her to the Med next summer!
I would be more than remiss if I did not devote a few words to the MSC Yacht Club or, as they like to style it, your Sanctuary At Sea. The best way to describe this experience is to imagine you are traveling as the special guest of Gianluigi Aponte himself, the owner of MSC Group, who invites you to partake of his own inner sanctum far away from the maddening crowds. You would expect that a man of his eminence would have his own private lounge, bar and pool, naturally.
What else would you expect to be at your and Signor Aponte’s beck and call? An exclusive butler and a private concierge desk, of course. When you check in at the terminal, you would expect to skip long lines and to be discretely guided to a lounge where you would meet your butler who would escort you to your cabin. You would no doubt anticipate gourmet dining in a private dining room. It would almost be a given that each afternoon you would be invited to an English high tea where you and the Signor would converse about matters of international import. What was not resolved in the afternoon session could be resumed over champagne and canapés before dinner!
Sadly, we can’t all be lifelong bosom buddies with “Luigi” as he starting asking me to call him after I saved his life for the second time. Not to worry! Everything I have described and more can be yours if you simply remember to book the Yacht Club on your next MSC cruise. What’s more, it will not require a king’s ransom. I was quite shocked to learn that the differential is much closer to a serf’s ransom, and a pretty scruffy serf at that. This, without a doubt, is one of the greatest values on the high seas.
The Past Is Prologue
Here is some information you should know about MSC, the fastest growing cruise line in the world, before we wind up this little tête-à-tête. In 2003, MSC sailed 127,000 passengers. In 2014 an estimated 1,680,000 will live the MSC experience. In that same period, they have gone from four ships to twelve and 5,000 berths to 39,000.
But even more interesting than where they have been is where they are going. They are currently building two ships at STX France (2017 & 2019) and two more at Fincantieri (2017 & 2018). Click here to go to the press release section of their website. Read the 5/22/2014 news release and you will find they are not just building new ships. They are building **NEW** ships in the most dramatic and revolutionary sense. They will be “futuristic ships with groundbreaking designs.” I witnessed a recent slide presentation of the new builds and even a jaded seafarer like me was knocked off my peg leg. Fortunately the parrot was uninjured.
As I see it, you have two choices at this point. You can dream the dream or you can live it. As we like to say, “Lend us your dreams and we will repay you with memories!”