Prior to my comprehensive review, i'd like to say that my intention is to produce a well rounded and honest opinion of the cruise line and the ship, not the itinerary or the destinations. I will be documenting our complete experience on this ship (in contrast to many of the poor quality reviews already published on this ship which seem to focus on silly individual things like vegan options in the buffet and airport transfers)
We chose this cruise over a similar Mediterranean sailing on Celebrity... who I will say we love as a cruise line and naturally Celebrity set a very high benchmark for other 4/5 star lines. We are not of the average age of people who tend to write cruise reviews, but in our mid-twenties I'd like to think we have a fairly rounded experience and look at cruises and the modern cruising experience from a slightly different perspective - one that is very rarely documented on this site.
Myself and partner tend to look for a cruise experience that offers quality dining experiences, excellent service (which includes staff with personalities and character) well maintained and modern ships and entertainment which caters for us twenty somethings... as well as everyone else.
In choosing the MSC Seaview none of the above was compromised, we were well and truly overwhelmed by the overall experience.
I last sailed with MSC as a 15 year old on the Lirica back in 2005, which overall wasn't bad but following this have only ever sailed with Celebrity and Holland America on one occasion. I must say that we chose to sail with MSC over Celebrity because Celebrities prices have continued to rise to the point where we no longer feel value for money. Prior to us embarking I did not believe I would be able to compare our last Celebrity experience on the Reflection in November 2017 with our upcoming MSC cruise in September, but it was evident from our short, 7-night stay on the Seaview that MSC are pulling out all the stops to compete with not just the mid tier 4-star cruise lines, but directly with the well heeled premium lines too.
Embarkation was a breeze, and so this continued at the ports during our itinerary and at disembarkation after our cruise. Within twenty minutes of arriving port side we were in the champagne bar ordering drinks! We stayed in an Aurea Suite Aft cabin (Aurea being the package level - similar to Aqua Class on Celebrity or Haven on Norwegian) Which gave us a private dining area, private sun deck, an inclusive drinks package, access to the spa's thermal areas (snow room, sauna's, steam rooms and thalassotherapy pool) plus a 50 minute complimentary massage from the spa menu... all for £1650! A lot of ground to catch up here Celebrity! Our cabin was very large and offered a queen bed, free mini bar (re-stocked every day) a generous bathroom, 'wrap around' balcony which gave us Starboard and Aft views and plenty of cabin storage. Our cabin was clean and tended to by our attendant three times a day.
The ship is beautiful and a lot of attention to detail has been paid to its aesthetics both internally and externally. Adorned with marble, silver, golds and bronzes the interior of the Seaview offers a classy and ultra modern, luxurious environment with no expense spared. The layout brings you different themes and often chunks main attractions together in individual and easy to find areas. Be aware, the Seaview is very large and often quite hard to navigate its 20 decks (not something that caused any real issues) Each deck is named after the world's oceans and seas and apart from the pool decks, floors 4 - 12 from Forward to Aft positions meet in the middle at the ships 'Grande Piazza', a glitzy expanse of different bars and restaurants. We spent most of our time pre and post-dinner around here, it gave us easy access to the casino, theatre and on most nights the ship's entertainment staff hosted various parties and themed events from the Piazza.
We were huge fans of the different pool areas, each offering a different experience for adults and children, with the ships Aquaventure waterpark tucked well away of the more serene and relaxing areas. Despite the ship being at it's capacity of 5000 guests, we always managed to find space to sunbath... although we would have liked to have seen pool staff removing towels from 'reserved' beds which weren't occupied for hours (a policy Celebrity adhere to and one I think works well)
Our private Aurea sundeck was a quiet place to retreat in the afternoon following a day out at port. However a negative for MSC on this one, they could have utilised the space better rather than simply filling it with sun loungers. The private bar was great, but I would have appreciated cabana's and more comfy seating space... not a massive issue in the grand scheme.
The ships entertainment is fast paced, exciting and offers music to accommodate all taste. Theatre shows offer a variety of performances and experiences and overall I rate good. The ships DJ plays current and previous hits depending on the time of day/ night and theme of the party.
The best we've had at sea. We're used to dining on the best having sailed with Celebrity for so many years, but following our experience on the Seaview, not only are the speciality restaurants superb, but the choice and the quality of the food in the main restaurants is excellent! Twinned with great service from the waiters. When sailing on the Seaview, I highly recommend taking out one of the speciality dining packages. The speciality restaurants we sampled were Asian Market (three asian restaurants) all wonderful and unique in their offering. Butchers Cut (steak house) Delightfully prepared and very tasty but very filling meals. Lastly, Ocean Cay being the stand-out... Created for and in collaboration with 'Michelin Star' chef Ramon Freixa is seafood heaven! I apologise for drawing comparison with Celebrity again but all of the speciality restaurants on the Seaview trump the speciality restaurants on our last Celebrity ship... the Reflection for a fairly comparative additional charge.
Engagement with staff on board was always what I would consider as good. The waiters and bar staff were nearly always excellent, showed a vested interest in their guests and looked to form a bond with us wherever we chose to eat. The sommelier and maitre'd in the speciality restaurants liked us so much he often left bottles of wine with us and offered hefty discounts if we chose to order any additionals! However I would have lied to have seen some 'Flare' bar tendering... again something we're used to on Celebrity.
Our room attendant was pleasant and would happily go over and above to ensure we were satisfied with everything. We didn't see much of the officers, who remained fairly elusive along with the ship's Captain Marco Massa who we very rarely heard from or saw... which was a shame, however not really impacting our experience.
Would we cruise with MSC again? Absolutely, but I would be hesitant after experiencing one of their newest ships to sail on the older ships in their fleet.
The Seaview seemed to deliver what we expect from a cruise and more. I would highly recommend MSC to any of our fellow cruisers who may be thinking about a change from their traditional cruise line or simply want better value for money. If you're British or American and looking to sail with MSC, bare in mind that the general appeal of MSC is to the european market. Many of our fellow guests were Italian, Spanish, French and German and many didn't speak or converse in English... again this didn't bother us because everyone was still very pleasant.