My wife and I chose this cruise because it was part of a package that included four days in Austria, where my wife has dreamed of visiting all her life. The land tour was excellent.
We were very much looking forward to boarding the Seaside and had been following the Captain's Facebook postings prior to sailing. His enthusiasm was contagious. But the ship was not ready for sailing.
Our first apprehensions came when we boarded and had trouble finding our cabin. No one offered directions, and MSC personnel we asked didn't seem to have a clue. I finally discovered it, after making several wrong guesses. The carpet on the corridor approaching our cabin was unbelievably stained and dirty, as if the ship had been in service for a long time already, even though this was its first cruise.
The cabin was about what we expected, but the bathroom—especially the shower—was really tiny. And the beds were set up individually instead of as the queen bed we had requested and which had been noted on our embarkation papers.
From the start, the food was more than acceptable, often even outstanding. The main problem came at breakfast: the dining room was unbelievably slow; the buffet kept running our of coffee and/or cups and/or milk. And there was a pillar at both coffee/tea/milk stations that made it a challenge to maneuver for a cup and then get to the urns without bumping into other passengers repeatedly. This became a daily ritual that we ended up just chuckling over.
Design flaws abound on this ship: it seems designed more for appearance than for utility. Being part Italian, I am quite familiar with the principle of "la bella figura": it's got to look good, even if it doesn't work correctly.
I should mention too that there was a piece of wood with three sharp screws sticking out of it taped to the back edge of our sliding closet door. I discovered it by puncturing a finger on one of the screws. I reported it to Reception, was asked if I wanted a band-aid, and assured that someone would be sent to remedy the situation. I declined the band-aid; and the piece sat in our cabin for about 10 days before mysteriously disappearing.
One bone of contention, which we are still trying to work out, was a "cabin credit" of about $178 we were told we would have. We inquired several times about it at Reception and at the Voyagers Club Desk and nobody knew anything, nor did they seem eager to get to the bottom of it.
Another disappointment: some of the early publicity mentioned a deck that would permit walking the circuit of the ship. Since I am a committed walker, I looked forward to it. There was no such deck. The closest was deck 7, which an MSC deckhand told my wife was the one I was looking for; but when I went there I found it dead-ended before completing a circuit; and then I saw signs that passengers were not permitted there anyway, since it was a lifeboat-staging deck.
All in all, this was not the "dream cruise" we had been sold. This was not the state-of-the-art dream ship either. But the ocean was still the ocean. The lower-echelon crew (cabin stewards and food service personnel) were very personable and helpful. And the entertainment was not bad, unless you don't like opera.
Our first experience with MSC may very well be our last.
Average, with bathroom—especially the shower—a bit too small.
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Stayed on board. sick.