MSC Poesia Cruise Review
Teatro Carlo Felice
Cruise-ship entertainment tends to be fairly predictable: The nightly shows on many ships fall under the heading of "Broadway Lite," with enthusiastic young actors performing song-and-dance numbers from musical comedies. The resulting shows can be pleasant enough, but they're basically a way for passengers to kill time after dinner and for cruise ships to sell extra drinks.
Or so we thought until our cruise on MSC Poesia.
MSC's evening shows are, in a word, stunning. During our cruise, the cast in the Teatro Carlo Felice included a middle-aged male crooner who also played a hot trumpet, a young female singer who was equally at home with classical and jazz, a juggler who also did stilt-walking, two male acrobats whose slow-motion moves combined athleticism with art, a pair of female aerialists, a young woman gymnast whose muscular male assistants tossed her in the air like a frisbee, a talented musician, a modern plainclothes mime who was entertaining to people who (like us) normally can't stand mimes, and the usual half-dozen or so dancers.
Every night's show was different, and the performers continued to amaze us by showing off new talents and skills. If we sound like we're gushing, there's a reason: The shows were that good.
The 1,250-seat auditorium was equally impressive. It's a real theatre, not a lounge--no drinks, no bar waiters, no chitchat around nightclub tables; just a large, attractively decorated theatre with state-of-the-art stage equipment and curved rows of sloped seating to provide good sightlines.
The Pigalle Lounge (inexplicably labeled "Le Moulin Rouge" on the ship's deck plan) is a bar with a stage and dance floor where adults-only shows take place from time to time. We attended one show (which the cruise director had billed as "sensual, even erotic") just to see how it compared with Italian late-night TV. The show consisted of two topless young women dancing slinkily in cat-inspired costumes, with much leg- and body-rubbing. We thought it was pretty tame, but if you're offended by nipples (or by crowds and cigarette smoke, for that matter), you might want to avoid any show with an "adult" theme.
Other entertainment possibilities include live music around the ship, ranging from piano-trio performances in the atrium to to dance bands and singers in half a dozen bars. We felt too staid and athletically challenged for the S32 Disco on Deck 14, but if your tastes run to crowds and DJs--and if you're over 21--you can dance to recorded music from midnight until the early hours of the morning.
MSC Poesia has a "Casino Royal," a "Texas Hold'em Poker" card room, and frequent games of bingo. (Bingo, like most other MSC activities, is multilingual, so don't worry if you haven't memorized Italian letters or numbers.)
The Animazione team, a.k.a. the Animation or Entertainment team, is a group of enthusiastic young people (mostly in their 20s) who are reminiscent of Club Med GOs or gentils organisateurs. Other reviewers have compared the animators to camp counselors, and the analogy isn't misplaced: The animazione team's job is to engage passengers and encourage participation, whether by tempting unaccompanied ladies onto the dance floor or by staging outrageous "Mr. Poesia" and more demure "Miss Poesia" contests.
On a typical day, the animators might bring passengers together for card and board games, organize trivia contests, offer multilingual cha-cha lessons on the poolside dance floor, stage an "Italian Party" in the disco, and wear black clothes with red clown noses as they tiptoe in a line behind unsuspecting passengers who are headed for seats in the Carlo Felice Theatre.
The team's antics are often silly, but the animators carry their stunts off with such panache and good spirits that nearly everyone seems to enjoy them.
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