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I recently spent 7 nights on MSC Seaside with my husband and two small children (ages 2 and 6). In this review, I’d really just like to focus on sharing some things I learned that helped make our stay more enjoyable. I hope they’re useful to others who have already booked their trip! If you’d like to know my opinion on MSC, scroll to the bottom. I’ll include a brief summary there. TIPS ON DINING/DRINKS Seaside has two buffets – one on deck 8 and one on deck 16. The deck 16 buffet is billed as being “family friendly” because it always serves chicken nuggets and has a soft serve ice cream machine. The deck 8 buffet is much larger and includes a large bar inside and outside the buffet area. We only ate on Deck 16 once. The acoustics up there are terrible, and even when the dining area is almost empty the noise level (from the kitchen, I guess?) is high. It also opens 30 minutes after the buffet on Deck 8, which wasn’t convenient for our family (our kiddos are used to eating early). Check your daily program or the MSC for Me app to get familiar with the dining times for all the restaurants and buffets. It’s a little confusing at first, and this will save you some trips. If possible, eat outside. It will feel more relaxing than the dining area around the buffet. I’d also recommend finding a seat close to the bar outside the Deck 8 buffet. If you sit inside and you’d like drink service, you push a button on the table and one of the (very busy) servers will get to you when they can. On the last day of the cruise we sat outside near the bar so I went there to get a coke and oh man, it was so much faster AND it was included in our “Mealtime Unlimited Drinks” package. I wish I had realized the bar outside was part of the buffet sooner! Keep your cruise card on you at all times. The servers will need it to get your drink. Go to the main restaurants for dinner! Since we were traveling with young kids, we figured we’d spend most of our time doing dinner at the buffet. However, the buffets open for dinner at 6:00 and 6:30, which is too later for us. We wound up using our 5:30 “early dining” slot at the Impanema Restaurant almost every night and you know what? It made our cruise. Our two servers were very professional, friendly, and helpful. By the second night, our two year old would sit and scan the crowd for them. He’d be SO EXCITED when they came to our table! Dining time in the main restaurant is about 70-90 minutes. I think this is by design. I understand it can feel slow to some people (I have a toddler, so trust me—I know!), but to be honest it was nice to slow down and be waited on at the end of a busy day. They have children’s menus if you request it and the kid’s menus change daily like the adults. My 6 yr old usually ordered half from the adult menu (he loves salads) and half from the kid’s menu. They were very flexible and after the first night knew us all by first name. A few people at our table found the doneness of their steak wasn’t very reliable (medium was sometimes medium well, etc.), but for me the quality and variety of the food was everything I could have wanted. The drink packages. Oh, the drink packages. This took us some time to figure out. We had the “Mealtime Unlimited Drink” package and 12 drink vouchers per person. (This was part of our promotion when we booked the cruise, we didn’t pay separately for these.) From other reviews, it seems like MSC changes things frequently, but as of Feb 24: 1. “Unlimited Mealtime Drinks” meant we could get pop, mineral water, (some) wine, (some) beer, and (some) cocktails during lunch and dinner. There are “premium” wines, beer, and cocktails that would still cost money, but it covers quite a bit. The catch: it only works in the buffets and main restaurants during lunch and dinner. So, I can’t show up to breakfast in the buffet and get a free Coke. 2. The drink vouchers are for anything else. They work for pop, bottled water, (some) alcohol, smoothies, milkshakes, even for gelato. As far as I know, they work in any bar or specialty restaurant on the ship. We NEVER paid extra for any of the “premium” drinks. We only used our drink package and the vouchers. It’s a little annoying that you have to carry around paper vouchers, but other than that I think we got a very good deal on drinks. 3. You’ll only see milk cartons out at breakfast time, but you can ALWAYS ask the buffet employees for milk if you (or your kiddos) need it. I was never charged for this. They have skim milk and whole. CABIN TIPS We were in a balcony cabin (13201). In the closet, there are two drawers and loads of hanging space (an upper rack and a lower half-rack). On either side of the bed, there are nightstands with 2 small shelves. Under the desk, there is a long, narrow drawer. In the bathroom, there are 3 shelves beside the mirror and two shelves under the sink. The space beneath the bed is high enough to allow storage of rolling bags. There are 10-15 hangers in the closet already. From a tip I read on Cruise Critic, I packed extra hangers to maximize our use of the space. (I have heard that you can request some from the Room Steward but that it can take some time and they don’t give you many extras.) My husband and I hung up all the clothes we could and that made up for only have one drawer each in the closet. The kids’ clothes we either left folded in the suitcase or put in the small shelves on the nightstand. (NOTE: The nightstand thing only worked because our kids are so small. The shelves aren’t very big.) The room also comes with a safe, hair dryer, mini-fridge, phone, and TV. If you’re traveling with small children, DON’T use the mini-fridge to store milk in. The one in our room was barely cool inside and I didn’t see a way to adjust the temperature. I put a carton of milk from the buffet in there one morning and when I opened it in the evening, it didn’t smell right. You can ALWAYS ask the employees in the buffet for a carton of milk. They’ll get it for you free of charge. If you have to be able to store milk or expressed breastmilk for babies, it might be safer to bring a small cooler and ask your room steward for ice. Maybe it’s just the fridge in our room, but I wanted to let people know. We were traveling with a convertible carseat for our 2-year-old and one of the things I worried about before the trip was where to store it. We were lucky enough to have great weather the whole trip (only a few short rain showers), so we left it on the balcony. This turned out to be a fantastic idea, because kiddo’s favorite thing to do in the room was go on the balcony, sit in his “chair,” and watch the ocean. The TV is actually really handy. They have a souped-up version of the MSC for Me app on it, so you can reserve shows, see the daily schedule, check out your bill, all kinds of stuff. (PS If you have a chance, put the MSC for Me app on your phone. It really comes in handy on the ship to check out the daily itinerary and the opening times for restaurants and other amenities.) Don’t lose your beach towel. They will give you one per person in the cabin and you’re expected to keep track of it. When you leave the dirty one in your room, they’ll replace it with a clean one. If the total is off at the end of the trip, you get charged $20 per towel. TECHNOLOGY TIPS Don’t waste your money on the Streamer internet package. On the MSC website, it says it will allow you to watch video. (We have two kids and they watch Amazon Prime Video…I figured if I upgraded my Internet package I would be able to download them some new shows when the “48-hour watch period” Prime gives you for downloaded things ran out.) When you get on board, however, it explains that Satellite internet is different than normal WiFi and what you’ll be able to do depends on the boat’s location and how many people are using it. The website doesn’t say anything about that. If it did, I WOULD NOT HAVE PAID $80 FOR INTERNET! AT NO TIME during the cruise was I able to watch video. I experimented with different times of the day (including the middle of the night when I figured traffic would be lightest) and varying lengths and quality of video. I couldn’t even get it to play a 2-minute YouTube video. It is definitely not worth the $80 they charge. If you want to be able to post a few photos and send emails, just get the smaller package and keep an eye on how much data you’re using. (The login website shows you how much of the package you’ve used in real time.) Go to Guest Services if you have trouble connecting to the Internet (it’s a little confusing). They have a video playing in a loop on a TV screen with instructions. DO use the MSC for Me app or at least check things out on the TV. You DON’T need a separate internet package to use the app. If you have kids, they’ll be outfitted with a bracelet with a computer chip in it for safety. I think it costs extra, but you can track their location at any time with this bracelet. (Our kiddos never went to the Kids Club, so we didn’t mess with it.) AMENITIES We loved the Jungle Pool. It has what they called a “beach area” that extends 8-15 feet around the perimeter of the pool. It’s like a wading pool for the kids and our toddler had a BLAST playing with his cars there. (Just keep an eye on little ones because if they get too adventurous they could fall into the deeper pool.) Our older son got in the pool and had a blast himself playing in the “waves” caused by the boat moving back and forth. The whole pool is covered by a tinted skylight so it’s at least partially shaded all day. (Bonus: this makes it less appealing to adults who want to sunbathe, so it tends to be a less busy pool.) There are plenty of lounge chairs, two hot tubs, and a bar close by. On the same level as the jungle pool is the official kids’ pool area. What fun! There’s a splash pad, small water slide, water shooters, and a shallow pool for the big kids. We usually went in the morning before it got too busy. Same goes for the foosball and ping pong tables on that level. There’s also a toddler-sized play area with large plastic animals to climb on, but it’s kind of dangerous for wee ones. It’s a nice idea, but being right next to the pool means that it’s always wet and slippery. The arcade was a hit with us, too. We purchased a “fun pass” (it just goes to your cruise card). By spending $50, we got an extra $15 added to it. Air hockey is $2 a game, bowling is $25 for 30 minutes, and the XD Interactive Movie Game is $10 per adult/$8 per kid. It didn’t take much to run through $65, but it was a good way to keep the kids entertained in between pool trips and shore excursions. (Bonus: the bowling alley has bumpers that can be programmed to show up JUST for kids. So adults and kids can play on the same lane at the same time.) We didn’t use the Kids’ Club for daycare. The area looked really great, though! My older son wanted to go until he found out that he’d be in the 3-6 room (with Lego Duplos) instead of the 7-11 room (with the “big kid” Legos). He’ll be 7 in a couple of weeks and he didn’t want to be with the “babies.” I don’t blame MSC for sticking with their policy, they have to set a limit somewhere, and the good news is that every day they had “open play” in the Lego room so he was able to go and play with Legos (as long as I stayed to supervise). This turned out to be a great compromise and he looked forward to Legos all day. If you’re not interested in spending extra money being entertained during the day, there are several lounges/seating areas that never seemed to be too busy. I saw lots of folks relaxing and playing cards or reading there. The ship also has free activities like trivia, crafts, and dance classes during the day. We never did those, but that’s an option. The elevators towards the middle of the ship are usually the most crowded. Unfortunately, they are also the hottest. It seems like a dumb thing to complain about, but it’s actually pretty uncomfortable to ride in them. If you’re able to take the stairs, do it. It’ll save time. Otherwise, the elevators at either end of the ship tend to be cooler and less crowded. EXCURSIONS We paid for two MSC Excursions. On Antigua, we did the Swimming with Stingrays and Snorkel Experience with our oldest son. There’s a lot of traveling for this one—both a 30-minute bus ride from the port and then a 10-minute boat ride to the reef (as well as another 30 minutes or so waiting to get on the boat). HOWEVER, it was so worth it. There were lots of stingrays to see and pet and it’s something we’ll remember for a long time. When we got back to the port, we had time for a leisurely lunch (there is a snack shop at the beach with the stingrays but we opted to try one of the restaurants at the port instead) and some shopping. This one is absolutely worth the money in my opinion. We also paid for an excursion at Turks and Caicos. A little backstory – our sailing was originally supposed to go to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. The first two stops were changed because of the hurricanes, so from mid-October onward we knew we’d be going to Antigua, St. Thomas, and the Bahamas. The night before we got on the ship, we found out from someone already on board (through a post to a Facebook group) that the captain had announced one more change of plans. Instead of the Bahamas, they were going to Grand Turk. All pre-paid excursions would be refunded. I wasn’t thrilled with the abrupt change and I was worried about booking another excursion because I like to plan things in advance. We had prepaid to do an “All-Inclusive Beach Break” on Freeport with our family of four and my in-laws (8 people in total). As soon as we got on board the ship, we went straight to the Excursions desk. We looked things over quickly (which was our fault for not reading very closely) and zeroed in on an “All-Inclusive Beach Break” that seemed similar to our original excursion. MSC listed it as a “private beach getaway” and our “very own exclusive beach oasis.” We assumed this meant that we would be going to a private resort OR at the very least that we would be the only excursion going to this beach. Unfortunately, we later found out that we were one of THREE MSC excursions to go to this beach. Far, far from a “private getaway,” it was just as crowded as the beaches we could have walked to from the pier. There were chairs 10 or 12 rows deep along a crowded beach, situated in between a snorkel shack and a bar/food area. More chairs extended a little way past the bar as well. The employees would occasionally walk through and move people who were in the way of one excursion or another (horseback riding, underwater segue tours, snorkeling groups…) but the thing is, no tourists had moved chairs around! They were that way when we go there. We arrived late because it was windy that day and it took longer to dock the boat and still had to wait for the food that was part of our “all-inclusive” package. I sat at the bar for almost 30 minutes trying to get a bottle of water. It was a madhouse and COMPLETELY not worth the money. If we had realized ahead of time that it was the meeting spot for so many excursions, we would not have gone there. The way MSC described it in their booklet was misleading. My tip there is – be very careful when booking excursions. MSC SUMMARY Miscommunication and/or misleading communication on MSC’s part is why we will not be taking an MSC cruise again. My two best examples are the Internet snafu (paying for “video streaming” internet on the website ahead of time and then finding out on the boat that it wouldn’t work) and the last-minute shore excursion (paying for a “private beach oasis” on Grand Turk and finding out that we were one of three MSC excursions going to the same place). I heard stories from others about promotions they were offered ahead of time that turned out not to be so great once they were on board. There was just an occasional feeling of bait and switch. MSC seems to be trying really hard to break into the American market but may be overselling themselves. The employees on the ship that I encountered were professional, helpful, and courteous. The food was great. It had good amenities for my family. In the end, though, I like to know that I’m going to get what I pay for, and I can’t be sure with MSC.

7-Night Caribbean Cruise on MSC Seaside

MSC Seaside Cruise Review by megarunr

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
I recently spent 7 nights on MSC Seaside with my husband and two small children (ages 2 and 6). In this review, I’d really just like to focus on sharing some things I learned that helped make our stay more enjoyable. I hope they’re useful to others who have already booked their trip! If you’d like to know my opinion on MSC, scroll to the bottom. I’ll include a brief summary there.

TIPS ON DINING/DRINKS

Seaside has two buffets – one on deck 8 and one on deck 16. The deck 16 buffet is billed as being “family friendly” because it always serves chicken nuggets and has a soft serve ice cream machine. The deck 8 buffet is much larger and includes a large bar inside and outside the buffet area.

We only ate on Deck 16 once. The acoustics up there are terrible, and even when the dining area is almost empty the noise level (from the kitchen, I guess?) is high. It also opens 30 minutes after the buffet on Deck 8, which wasn’t convenient for our family (our kiddos are used to eating early).

Check your daily program or the MSC for Me app to get familiar with the dining times for all the restaurants and buffets. It’s a little confusing at first, and this will save you some trips.

If possible, eat outside. It will feel more relaxing than the dining area around the buffet. I’d also recommend finding a seat close to the bar outside the Deck 8 buffet. If you sit inside and you’d like drink service, you push a button on the table and one of the (very busy) servers will get to you when they can. On the last day of the cruise we sat outside near the bar so I went there to get a coke and oh man, it was so much faster AND it was included in our “Mealtime Unlimited Drinks” package. I wish I had realized the bar outside was part of the buffet sooner!

Keep your cruise card on you at all times. The servers will need it to get your drink.

Go to the main restaurants for dinner! Since we were traveling with young kids, we figured we’d spend most of our time doing dinner at the buffet. However, the buffets open for dinner at 6:00 and 6:30, which is too later for us. We wound up using our 5:30 “early dining” slot at the Impanema Restaurant almost every night and you know what? It made our cruise. Our two servers were very professional, friendly, and helpful. By the second night, our two year old would sit and scan the crowd for them. He’d be SO EXCITED when they came to our table!

Dining time in the main restaurant is about 70-90 minutes. I think this is by design. I understand it can feel slow to some people (I have a toddler, so trust me—I know!), but to be honest it was nice to slow down and be waited on at the end of a busy day. They have children’s menus if you request it and the kid’s menus change daily like the adults. My 6 yr old usually ordered half from the adult menu (he loves salads) and half from the kid’s menu. They were very flexible and after the first night knew us all by first name. A few people at our table found the doneness of their steak wasn’t very reliable (medium was sometimes medium well, etc.), but for me the quality and variety of the food was everything I could have wanted.

The drink packages. Oh, the drink packages. This took us some time to figure out. We had the “Mealtime Unlimited Drink” package and 12 drink vouchers per person. (This was part of our promotion when we booked the cruise, we didn’t pay separately for these.) From other reviews, it seems like MSC changes things frequently, but as of Feb 24:

1. “Unlimited Mealtime Drinks” meant we could get pop, mineral water, (some) wine, (some) beer, and (some) cocktails during lunch and dinner. There are “premium” wines, beer, and cocktails that would still cost money, but it covers quite a bit. The catch: it only works in the buffets and main restaurants during lunch and dinner. So, I can’t show up to breakfast in the buffet and get a free Coke.

2. The drink vouchers are for anything else. They work for pop, bottled water, (some) alcohol, smoothies, milkshakes, even for gelato. As far as I know, they work in any bar or specialty restaurant on the ship. We NEVER paid extra for any of the “premium” drinks. We only used our drink package and the vouchers. It’s a little annoying that you have to carry around paper vouchers, but other than that I think we got a very good deal on drinks.

3. You’ll only see milk cartons out at breakfast time, but you can ALWAYS ask the buffet employees for milk if you (or your kiddos) need it. I was never charged for this. They have skim milk and whole.

CABIN TIPS

We were in a balcony cabin (13201). In the closet, there are two drawers and loads of hanging space (an upper rack and a lower half-rack). On either side of the bed, there are nightstands with 2 small shelves. Under the desk, there is a long, narrow drawer. In the bathroom, there are 3 shelves beside the mirror and two shelves under the sink. The space beneath the bed is high enough to allow storage of rolling bags.

There are 10-15 hangers in the closet already. From a tip I read on Cruise Critic, I packed extra hangers to maximize our use of the space. (I have heard that you can request some from the Room Steward but that it can take some time and they don’t give you many extras.) My husband and I hung up all the clothes we could and that made up for only have one drawer each in the closet. The kids’ clothes we either left folded in the suitcase or put in the small shelves on the nightstand. (NOTE: The nightstand thing only worked because our kids are so small. The shelves aren’t very big.)

The room also comes with a safe, hair dryer, mini-fridge, phone, and TV. If you’re traveling with small children, DON’T use the mini-fridge to store milk in. The one in our room was barely cool inside and I didn’t see a way to adjust the temperature. I put a carton of milk from the buffet in there one morning and when I opened it in the evening, it didn’t smell right. You can ALWAYS ask the employees in the buffet for a carton of milk. They’ll get it for you free of charge. If you have to be able to store milk or expressed breastmilk for babies, it might be safer to bring a small cooler and ask your room steward for ice. Maybe it’s just the fridge in our room, but I wanted to let people know.

We were traveling with a convertible carseat for our 2-year-old and one of the things I worried about before the trip was where to store it. We were lucky enough to have great weather the whole trip (only a few short rain showers), so we left it on the balcony. This turned out to be a fantastic idea, because kiddo’s favorite thing to do in the room was go on the balcony, sit in his “chair,” and watch the ocean.

The TV is actually really handy. They have a souped-up version of the MSC for Me app on it, so you can reserve shows, see the daily schedule, check out your bill, all kinds of stuff. (PS If you have a chance, put the MSC for Me app on your phone. It really comes in handy on the ship to check out the daily itinerary and the opening times for restaurants and other amenities.)

Don’t lose your beach towel. They will give you one per person in the cabin and you’re expected to keep track of it. When you leave the dirty one in your room, they’ll replace it with a clean one. If the total is off at the end of the trip, you get charged $20 per towel.

TECHNOLOGY TIPS

Don’t waste your money on the Streamer internet package. On the MSC website, it says it will allow you to watch video. (We have two kids and they watch Amazon Prime Video…I figured if I upgraded my Internet package I would be able to download them some new shows when the “48-hour watch period” Prime gives you for downloaded things ran out.) When you get on board, however, it explains that Satellite internet is different than normal WiFi and what you’ll be able to do depends on the boat’s location and how many people are using it. The website doesn’t say anything about that. If it did, I WOULD NOT HAVE PAID $80 FOR INTERNET!

AT NO TIME during the cruise was I able to watch video. I experimented with different times of the day (including the middle of the night when I figured traffic would be lightest) and varying lengths and quality of video. I couldn’t even get it to play a 2-minute YouTube video. It is definitely not worth the $80 they charge. If you want to be able to post a few photos and send emails, just get the smaller package and keep an eye on how much data you’re using. (The login website shows you how much of the package you’ve used in real time.)

Go to Guest Services if you have trouble connecting to the Internet (it’s a little confusing). They have a video playing in a loop on a TV screen with instructions.

DO use the MSC for Me app or at least check things out on the TV. You DON’T need a separate internet package to use the app.

If you have kids, they’ll be outfitted with a bracelet with a computer chip in it for safety. I think it costs extra, but you can track their location at any time with this bracelet. (Our kiddos never went to the Kids Club, so we didn’t mess with it.)

AMENITIES

We loved the Jungle Pool. It has what they called a “beach area” that extends 8-15 feet around the perimeter of the pool. It’s like a wading pool for the kids and our toddler had a BLAST playing with his cars there. (Just keep an eye on little ones because if they get too adventurous they could fall into the deeper pool.) Our older son got in the pool and had a blast himself playing in the “waves” caused by the boat moving back and forth. The whole pool is covered by a tinted skylight so it’s at least partially shaded all day. (Bonus: this makes it less appealing to adults who want to sunbathe, so it tends to be a less busy pool.) There are plenty of lounge chairs, two hot tubs, and a bar close by.

On the same level as the jungle pool is the official kids’ pool area. What fun! There’s a splash pad, small water slide, water shooters, and a shallow pool for the big kids. We usually went in the morning before it got too busy. Same goes for the foosball and ping pong tables on that level. There’s also a toddler-sized play area with large plastic animals to climb on, but it’s kind of dangerous for wee ones. It’s a nice idea, but being right next to the pool means that it’s always wet and slippery.

The arcade was a hit with us, too. We purchased a “fun pass” (it just goes to your cruise card). By spending $50, we got an extra $15 added to it. Air hockey is $2 a game, bowling is $25 for 30 minutes, and the XD Interactive Movie Game is $10 per adult/$8 per kid. It didn’t take much to run through $65, but it was a good way to keep the kids entertained in between pool trips and shore excursions. (Bonus: the bowling alley has bumpers that can be programmed to show up JUST for kids. So adults and kids can play on the same lane at the same time.)

We didn’t use the Kids’ Club for daycare. The area looked really great, though! My older son wanted to go until he found out that he’d be in the 3-6 room (with Lego Duplos) instead of the 7-11 room (with the “big kid” Legos). He’ll be 7 in a couple of weeks and he didn’t want to be with the “babies.” I don’t blame MSC for sticking with their policy, they have to set a limit somewhere, and the good news is that every day they had “open play” in the Lego room so he was able to go and play with Legos (as long as I stayed to supervise). This turned out to be a great compromise and he looked forward to Legos all day.

If you’re not interested in spending extra money being entertained during the day, there are several lounges/seating areas that never seemed to be too busy. I saw lots of folks relaxing and playing cards or reading there. The ship also has free activities like trivia, crafts, and dance classes during the day. We never did those, but that’s an option.

The elevators towards the middle of the ship are usually the most crowded. Unfortunately, they are also the hottest. It seems like a dumb thing to complain about, but it’s actually pretty uncomfortable to ride in them. If you’re able to take the stairs, do it. It’ll save time. Otherwise, the elevators at either end of the ship tend to be cooler and less crowded.

EXCURSIONS

We paid for two MSC Excursions. On Antigua, we did the Swimming with Stingrays and Snorkel Experience with our oldest son. There’s a lot of traveling for this one—both a 30-minute bus ride from the port and then a 10-minute boat ride to the reef (as well as another 30 minutes or so waiting to get on the boat). HOWEVER, it was so worth it. There were lots of stingrays to see and pet and it’s something we’ll remember for a long time. When we got back to the port, we had time for a leisurely lunch (there is a snack shop at the beach with the stingrays but we opted to try one of the restaurants at the port instead) and some shopping. This one is absolutely worth the money in my opinion.

We also paid for an excursion at Turks and Caicos. A little backstory – our sailing was originally supposed to go to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. The first two stops were changed because of the hurricanes, so from mid-October onward we knew we’d be going to Antigua, St. Thomas, and the Bahamas. The night before we got on the ship, we found out from someone already on board (through a post to a Facebook group) that the captain had announced one more change of plans. Instead of the Bahamas, they were going to Grand Turk. All pre-paid excursions would be refunded.

I wasn’t thrilled with the abrupt change and I was worried about booking another excursion because I like to plan things in advance. We had prepaid to do an “All-Inclusive Beach Break” on Freeport with our family of four and my in-laws (8 people in total). As soon as we got on board the ship, we went straight to the Excursions desk. We looked things over quickly (which was our fault for not reading very closely) and zeroed in on an “All-Inclusive Beach Break” that seemed similar to our original excursion. MSC listed it as a “private beach getaway” and our “very own exclusive beach oasis.” We assumed this meant that we would be going to a private resort OR at the very least that we would be the only excursion going to this beach.

Unfortunately, we later found out that we were one of THREE MSC excursions to go to this beach. Far, far from a “private getaway,” it was just as crowded as the beaches we could have walked to from the pier. There were chairs 10 or 12 rows deep along a crowded beach, situated in between a snorkel shack and a bar/food area. More chairs extended a little way past the bar as well. The employees would occasionally walk through and move people who were in the way of one excursion or another (horseback riding, underwater segue tours, snorkeling groups…) but the thing is, no tourists had moved chairs around! They were that way when we go there. We arrived late because it was windy that day and it took longer to dock the boat and still had to wait for the food that was part of our “all-inclusive” package. I sat at the bar for almost 30 minutes trying to get a bottle of water. It was a madhouse and COMPLETELY not worth the money. If we had realized ahead of time that it was the meeting spot for so many excursions, we would not have gone there. The way MSC described it in their booklet was misleading. My tip there is – be very careful when booking excursions.

MSC SUMMARY

Miscommunication and/or misleading communication on MSC’s part is why we will not be taking an MSC cruise again. My two best examples are the Internet snafu (paying for “video streaming” internet on the website ahead of time and then finding out on the boat that it wouldn’t work) and the last-minute shore excursion (paying for a “private beach oasis” on Grand Turk and finding out that we were one of three MSC excursions going to the same place). I heard stories from others about promotions they were offered ahead of time that turned out not to be so great once they were on board. There was just an occasional feeling of bait and switch. MSC seems to be trying really hard to break into the American market but may be overselling themselves.

The employees on the ship that I encountered were professional, helpful, and courteous. The food was great. It had good amenities for my family. In the end, though, I like to know that I’m going to get what I pay for, and I can’t be sure with MSC.
megarunr’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Dining
Public Rooms
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Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    From the port, you drive about 25 minutes in an air-conditioned bus. Try to remember your driver's name...you will be expected to return on the same bus! You arrive at a beach with a snack stand, bar, bathroom and shower facilities, and picnic tables. You'll wait there about 20-30 minutes until they have a large enough group. Then, you'll receive snorkel gear and be transferred by boat to a reef about 10 minutes away. I'm 5'1" tall and the water came up to my ribcage. The guides say that when the stingrays hear the boats they come up for food, and they are right! We saw so many stingrays and it was a memorable experience. On the return trip, you can stop for snacks (and a free rum punch) before being taken back to the port.
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  • City Tour
    We took a cab from the port to downtown for shopping. I love the area, but so many of the shops are jewelry stores! We walked back to the boat, I'd guess it's a mile and a half to walk.
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