Vivian M. Webb, MCC
(434) 237-3832
(800) 854-0500
  My MSC Seaside Easter Cruise Review. Is MSC for you ?  
 

 

 

MSC Seaside

My 2018 Easter Cruise Review & vacation adventure 

 

Much needed vacation !  3 months of Wave Season !  It was Easter, which is one time I love to get away.  And it was the 5th year anniversary of my father’s passing, April 1.  Began in LYH with train to BWI, then flight to MIA, for a pre-night.  Returned by way of train, from MIA to LYH.  Decided I wanted to take the extra time for travel, to get my pictures cropped and my review written (otherwise, once home, could be another week or more, before I would get this completed). 

 

Had a great time.  Just needed more time.  If I had it to do over again, I would have booked 2 weeks back-to-back.  So much to do.  I’m so exhausted, by the time I get to vacation, all I want to do is ‘nothing’.  And that’s basically what I did, with my 7 days, on the Seaside.  Had I booked for 14N’s, I may have partaken in the many daily activities and night time parties available.

 

Did take advantage of 6 of the 7N shows.  What I love most, they only last 30 minutes.  That’s all you need.  After 30 minutes of any show, I’m bored and ready to go !  What else I loved, there were 3 times:  6pm, 8pm, and 9:15pm.

 

Music was going on, in at least 2 locations till 2pm.  I found myself staying up till 1am each night, at the back pool/bar, listening to the DJ !

 

What I love about dining times, is there were so many options to choose from.  515pm, 5:30pm, 7:15pm, 7:30pm, 8:45pm, 9pm, 9:15pm, and 9:30pm.  Europeans love to eat later, and I do too.  I chose 9:15pm.  Had I known the show would only have been 30 minutes, I may have chosen 9pm.  The only negative is getting out so late.  I got out @ 10:30pm.  Not late because of eating late, but because then, I wanted to stay up later !

 

What did I think this time of the food on MSC ?  Much better.  Dinners were just fine !  Couple nights, I didn’t see what I really wanted, but I find that on almost every cruise I go on !  And the buffets looked mostly American food.  See more insight below on food below.

 

 

Ship

Beautiful, like the MSC Divina, however, totally modernized decor.

They do still have the sparkling stairs cases, in the main atrium !

Didn’t discover the back elevator, till day before getting off ship. Had I known, I would have gone to the café on deck 8 in the mornings, picked up my coffee, and took the back elevator to the back pool deck, on 7 (Instead, I went to the middle elevator & walked down w/2 cups of coffee).

 

Drink Package.

Most bought. $47-54 day + 15percent.

Few folks like me, didn’t buy. Was given 12 drink tickets. 4 extra to use the 1st 2 ½ days (because they couldn’t reach the mainland before Monday, because their records didn’t show I was to receive) + bottle of champagne for the inconvenience.  Also given bottle of champagne because I have black card (see status below).

Others had drink tickets plus free beer/wine @ lunch & dinner. One day, I was given 2 free glasses, for lunch, cause they didn’t have time to look & see if I was supposed to be receiving these too.  Learned later, some folks rec’d in their package, but not me.

All & all, bar staff busy giving out drinks & making nothing. At back pool, all the staff were happy & grateful to wait on you anyway !

 

MSC Me App.

Downloaded before leaving home. Used to see charges, pre-sign up for shows, see itinerary & more.  Was great !

 

International Vs American.

Unless they spoke, 70percent, you could not tell. Yes, seemed to be many more International than American’s. And many guests couldn’t speak English.

Each announcement was done 5 times; 5 languages. Only a few times, do I remember hearing this over the intercom.  However, you did hear at the shows.  Even the captain, could speak 5 languages. Others more.

Many International folks told me, they’ve cruised many MSC.  My one friend I met, didn’t seem happy about this cruise.  She talked of here room, etc.  But I never saw what she saw, so I’m not sure, if she was just not a total complainer !

 

Attire

Very highly fashionable, especially International folks (just like on the Divina). Spending BIG $ on clothes, shoes, bathing suits.  Yet others in T-shirts, shorts, jeans, flip flops.

Though dinners said mostly ’smart casual’ (& 2 dress-up), basically anyone could wear anything to dinner, other than bathing suit/beach wear.

 

Age

Average 65 (?). As many 15-18 as 80’s.

And they were active ! Up till 2am+. Dancing, talking, & more !!

Several kids, but families seemed to stay more on deck 16 pool, water park (was told, it’s now the largest water park afloat), & Jungle garden (this was unbelievable – you would have to see for yourself !

FYI … There’s a baby club … 3 & under.

 

Activities/Entertainment

Very busy ship. Lots going on, day & night.

Lots of daily activities !

At least 2 locations playing music till 2am. LOTS of people were UP.

1-2 times a night, music, activities, or little show in the atrium.

Nightly Shows

Show Lounge, not large. Each night, Broadway type shows. Only last 30 min, which was PERFECT ! 3 shows a night: 6, 8, 9:15pm. You had to pre-scheduled up, once onboard. Days prior, they sold out.

Improve – Offered several nights.  I went one.  Just not my thing.

Few other shows.  I didn’t go !

 

Chocolate

Apparently the Italian’s love. Entire chocolate shop onboard. $8-10 lb. Plus chocolate Martin’s, hot chocolate, chocolate gravy … Lots of espresso & more.

 

Dinner Meats

Not gamey, such as lamb.

Most meats, very tender !

Once night, there was a chocolate sauce on the beef tenderloin !

 

Buffet

Basically regular type food : Hamburg, hot dogs, pizza, rotisserie chicken, shredded BBQ chicken, ground Hamburg, mash potatoes, french fries.l, chips, salsa, guacamole, cheese, soups, & lots more. Also Mediterranean area (cheese, etc). Also pasta … yet not one day spaghetti nor linguine.

Maybe saw linguine in dining room (?). At least saw it in specialty dining

Buffet on 2 decks. 8 & 16. 16th, includes child (food) bar, like chicken nuggets & mac-n-cheese.

 

Buffet Salad:

  1. All food for a salad are together. Example, if want to      add ham or cheese, this is found elsewhere on buffet.
  2. Only in salad bar find 4 salad dressings. In dining      room, salads have own dressings.

 

Dessert

Least favorite food type. Basically there, just to say they had something. Weren’t awful, just nothing extraordinary. Could have actually left off each night. Ordered anyway, to try, & hope, it might ’be the one” 🤔.

Yes, had crème burley, Panna cotta, Baked Alaska, cheesecake (s), tiramisu, oval cream filled pastries (yes,, full), breading (not good 😓).

 

Ice cream

  1. Only in one place on buffet, deck 16 (family area).      Staff makes for you. Lucky if 1 ½” of ice cream.  Only went twice.      1st time, she triplled the size. Next time, had to get back in.line 3      times.to get my fill.
  2. Dining room, only chocolate & vanilla. Staff said      homemade.  Has Vanilla few times.
  3. 2 locations to purchase onboard.  Apparently some, had a few tickets in      their package.  I never did check      the cost, but many had the larger cup.

 

Specialty Dining.

Like any, you need to buy these packages in advance or it’s going to cost you big time, once there.

Having black card (see status below), I rec’d one specialty dining. I chose Easter night. Which was also, 5 years from my father’s passing.

Though my ticket was for 2, if not rooming with me, I could not invite anyone.

I chose Ocean. Appetizer, crab legs, normal cost $39. Fabulous. I was full. Main entry, 15 Oysters Rockefeller. Unfortunately, the cream sauce on top, not baked (Italian style) like we do in US. Didn’t like. Tried $10 (free) Tuna Tartar. Meat was totally raw, but good (small pieces), however, tasted like it had been rolled in ‘salt’ so I only had a couple of bites.

Had met 65 year old lady from Brazil. We dined together (she bought 3 restaurant PKG $89). Tried her clam linguine. Too salty, couldn’t eat. Crab legs were enough anyway !!

Lunch time - you still pay for the meals ; same menus.

 

Cocktail Parties.

I was invited to 2. One was past guests (7:30pm). The other, Black Card Party (10am in the morning).

Captain & staff, actually go around & toast every one.

 

Service.

For the most part, they seemed to really want you to be happy !

Constantly giving out drinks, even if they weren’t sure if it was part of your package.

And as mentioned above, the captain cheers everyone’s glass at the parties !

However, if you had a problem, the line the pursers desk was long !  Not much different than other cruise lines in the begging.  They do have a lot more staff present, than found on RCI’s larger ships or NCL (at night) !  Also because they were busy, they didn’t always answer when you called. 

Dining Staff – I had a great guy.  And all the waiters in my area seemed very happy and excited on waiting on folks !

Lunch Staff – Didn’t seem as happy.  It was not in the same dining room I had dinner !  For most cruise lines, it seems this way, that when it’s not your waiter, they’re not as happy !

Back pool staff – Very happy all the time.  Though they were basically just getting complimentary drinks for all who had the packages.

 

Status Level

MSC will match your status from ANY cruise line. Then give you the same perks they give their guests of same status. I received their highest level, Black Card.

Besides extra party, also received a chocolate ship, hour in therapeutic spa (didn’t try; just went & read up on it - see pictures), bottle champagne & strawberries, & more.

 

My only problem

My package came with 12 drink tickets.  And it took mid-week to get them.  My paper said, Fantastica.  But apparently, now they have a Fantasica Experience.  So that’s confusing.

 

 

How would I describe MSC

Unique, beautiful/elegant, Italian, International guests all over the world.

Is this cruise line for you ?

*First of all, you can’t compare this to any other cruise line.  It is not a Carnival, it’s not a Royal Caribbean !  So you can’t go onboard, and try to compare.  Yes, you can compare the entertainment, the food, the guests, the attire, and such !  But this cruise line stands alone.

It’s Italian base !  So if you want to compare it to anything, you compare it to another Italian cruise line, such as Costa.

*Over 50% International Folks.  Many can’t speak English !

*The attire of these folks are fabulous !  Much money spent by Internationals, and I’m sure, many Americans too !  Yet, the cruise line didn’t require set attire for dining, thought it stated ‘smart casual’ most nights.  Does not say freestyle, like NCL does.  They just don’t seem to mind what you wear !  Though I did see more heavy set folks at the pool this time, it’s not like what you see up at the Carnival pool, with more fatties in bikinis (no offense).

*Very inexpensive !  My cost as a single, less than $875, however, I was inside.  And I had purchased many months in advance.

*Like NCL, the specialty dining was very expensive, if you did not purchase packages in advance.

*Food was great.  Can’t say the same on my 1st out of 2 MSC Divina cruises. Select dishes, were more Italian, so I may not have liked as much.  Such as Oysters Rockefeller !

There was no spaghetti pasta onboard, which I did find strange.

*Buffets on the Seaside were a variety, but somewhat the same each day.  Didn’t’ have time to find out, if night time was any different !  It’s a large buffet area, like the large ships of NCL.

*Complimentary ice cream, not abundance like Carnival. 

*Pizza is as good as Carnival, however, they are no longer serving more than cheese and/or with pepperoni, which was a disappointment from the Divina.

*Dessert is not a forte’ of MSC, however, I can’t always say that Carnival is either !  And many cruise lines have cut back in their area.  Was nothing wrong with it, just nothing special to write home about.  They did have a cake w/chocolate pudding inside, much like Carniva’s Lava Cake.

*The ship is very elegant !  Like the Divina, but more modern.

*The broadway shows were great, and shown nightly !  And only 30 minutes.  3 times to choose from.

*Lots of daily activities !

*And this ship stays up till 2am, unlike many cruise lines now !

*Service, 90% great !  One day, for lunch in the dining room, they were over busy & we were there almost 2 hours !  Thankful, met some great folks at the next table, who were great to talk with !

Do I think you should try it

If you’re looking for something new.  A different experience.  Great cost.  And have a clear understanding of the differences – You’re cruising Italian Style !  With a cruise line who attracts many International folks.

 

 

My ports were Nassau, San Juan, and St Martin.

Nassau – I walked to the market.  Found a store, before getting there, and picked up a few gifts.  Got down to the market, and stayed no more than @ 30 minutes, before deciding to go back to the ship. 

San Juan – We arrived @ noon.  I didn’t opt to watch us come in & see the fort.  After lunch, I walked down to the park, as I usually do.  Picked up a few gifts.  Then returned to the ship.

St Martin – Finally decided to take a tour (Bernard Tours – my associate told me about – great price, $45, included the beach, along with water, soda’s, beer), after many years of just going there to shop.  Gave me a chance to see what was going on in the island.  The general debris, in the roads, were all up, and in general looked great.  Many resorts are highly damaged and won’t open till 2019.  2 were not damaged at all.   Finally, I got to go to Maho Beach and see the planes go just over head.  Exciting !  We stopped at a beach, and had time for lunch.  Then at the market, on the French side, for shopping.  Very expensive !  Unfortunately, the French Bakeries were all torn down.  Then I was dropped in town, and visited with some friends !

 

 

Great cruise.  Would I do again ?  Yes.  However, more saddened, that I opted to come home after only one week.  It’s not enough time to do everything on the ship, and not enough time to de-stress !

Thank goodness, I leave again in 6 weeks.  This time, 9Nights !

 

Am I unpacked ?  If you want to call, slinging clothes out of the suitcase to find things, unpacked !  It’s been a very busy week here ! So no, I’ve not had time.  Have I had any decent meals ?  Only the one, my GF invited me over for salmon !  Next week’s calendar, already looks busy too !  Talk about starving … Going to see if there’s any cruise food in my refrig (hehehe).

 

Went to Dr this week.  Finally had my ‘lung’ appointment after 4 months.  Says the reason I get out of breath some (after dinner), when walking … My stomach is hitting my esophagus & I have a narrow breathing path.  Says, I need stop eating all that cruise food (Really ?) and lose some weight (Really ?).

He also said … Know why my ankles swell when on cruise ?  Salt in food.

Handed him my business card and said … Call me when you want some salt (smile) !

 

Have a great rest of your April !