MSC Seaside Cruise Review by vcschieble
- Sail Date: January 2019
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Fantastica Outside Stateroom
I will separate my review by category and give you the PRO's and CON's of each. I will try to give you as many details as possible.
First off, we enjoyed this cruise as a getaway from winter weather. We've been to the eastern Caribbean before and knew what to expect and were really excited to be on the brand new MSC Seaside! We are an American married couple without kids; I am 30, my husband is 45, just to give you an idea of the perspective of this review. Please let me know if you have any questions!
I wrote a pretty detailed cabin PRO and CON description in the cabin sections. We were on the 5th deck, Fantastica "outside" oceanview room (O2), with a huge porthole. Room 5128. Please see the cabin review section for details.
PRO: The room was made up/cleaned pretty much every time we left the room, even if we were gone only for a few hours. They made the bed, vacuumed, replaced shower towels, and wiped the bathroom mirrors and counters. We left notes for specific requests, like when our tv/remote wasn't working, and our requests were met.
CON: Only saw our attendant twice, don't even remember his name. No way to contact him directly and never saw him in the halls. Had to call guest services desk for towels, called several times, no response until the next day. 24 hour dry cleaning was NOT 24 hour. My husband didn't get his suit back until minutes before formal night dinner.. and that was with constant prodding. When I asked the attendant about the champagne package that didn't get delivered, he had no idea how to address it.
CRUISE SHIP - MSC SEASIDE:
PRO: Brand new and beautiful!! Sparkles everywhere. Many places to sit and relax, very contemporary feel. Chairs are modern, tables are sparkling clean, stairs in the atrium glisten with crystals (my favorite part!), and bars are abundant. Mirrors everywhere, there is a lot to look at. The ship was very clean as a whole, which is expected since it's brand new. The La Boheime bistro bar (on deck 8?) of the atrium area was our favorite spot. It was empty all of the time and had a french feel. Very relaxing. Elevators were not as busy as I expected.
CON: Not as huge as it appears online in pictures. The outside decks do NOT wrap all the way around the ship, so if you are a walker or enjoy late night strolls, this is NOT the ship for you. There are no decks at the front of the ship and the entire back on the ship is a smoking are. We were pretty disappointed with this, as were other cruisers we met. Balcony rooms look down on the only outside deck, making it very non private (I felt bad for the people who paid for balcony rooms). Balcony rooms look down over the buffet seating. The other balcony rooms look down over the private spa deck. Very non private.The higher outdoor decks were not accessible unless you are yacht club members. There are no high level decks for nice ocean views. Pools were really small. There were NOT enough chairs at all and they were stacked and put away very early in the evening, so if you like to lay out under the stars, forget about it because they are tied up.
ENTERTAINMENT/THINGS TO DO:
PROs: There are a lot of things to do on this ship. Some of the more interesting and new things were the bowling alley (2 lanes), zip lines (2 lines), the water slides (I think there were 4 of them), and the jungle themed pool. The jungle themed pool was kind of hidden in the middle of the ship and included a shallow area for kids. This is where you will find the entrance to the water slides and the small rope course. We saw the "BeerProv" show in the theater twice, it was really funny and each show is different. There are family friendly BeerProv shows and 18+ BeerProv shows. You can reserve a spot at the shows to ensure you get in, but honestly, the seats didn't fill up. We didn't attend any other theater shows. The themed party nights had a lot of followers (70's disco night, the white party, etc).
CONs: Most of the new activities listed above cost extra money, as expected, even the water slides. Because of this, we didn't partake. (The theater shows were free). Every so often, there would be a short 15-20 minute show in the atrium that went along with the theme of the day. For example, on 70's disco day, a group of dancers would come out to the atrium and dance to disco music. On several other occasions, the same dancers would dance to some other kind of themed music. This sounds bad, but we laughed because these dancers were terrible. It looked like they just pulled some workers out from behind the bars to dance real quick. If you're looking for a dancing job on this cruise ship, it's pretty guaranteed you'll get the job. You just have to be inexperienced and very unenthusiastic. That was entertainment enough for us.
PRO's: The dining room for assigned dinner seating was very elegant and decorated differently for themed nights (formal, italian, final night). When showing up for our assigned dinner time, we were seated very quickly and didn't have to wait in line. We ordered multiple appetizers and entrees like we usually do and didn't have any issues with it. They will bring a birthday cake to your table if you are celebrating, so don't hesitate to mention it's your birthday! The buffet had a lot to offer, the best part was the huge selection of fresh bread. So good! The buffet offered a late night spread as well. There was bar service in the buffet or you could use their cool soda/beer/wine dispensers that are operated using your cruise card (if you have the right drink package). You'll be entertained watching people without the drink package try to dispense a drink, and upon failing, looking completely confused. In other parts of the ship, there are gelato stations, a chocolate shop, and milkshakes. You can get different coffees at all the bars, I highly suggest the cappuccino, they are on point! You should get the classic drink package so you can get all the cocktails, coffees, milkshakes, beer, wine, and sodas. They only things left out of the package were premium liquors and premium champagne.
CON's: The food was not that great. It was actually the worst we've had on any cruise. It was not high end and did not reflect the 5 star cuisine you expect or have had on other cruise lines. The food is always what I look the most forward to; I choose the dining room over the buffet almost every time... but this time, I skipped the dining room to go to the buffet on several occasions. The buffet is packed, as expected, and there is no dress code enforcement. Guests were shoeless, shirtless, and just gross. Hand sanitizer is everywhere, but not enforced. Service in the dining room was terrible. On multiple occasions, our main server didn't bring everything we ordered. This applies to both dinner and breakfast in the dining room. Ordering alcoholic drinks in the dining room is a disaster, it takes forever to get your wine, beer, champagne, or even a simple shirley temple. Our table was 766 and the person seating us could never find it. We ended up just bypassing the person meant to seat us. It was obvious that the servers wanted us to eat quickly and leave so they could set up for the next seating. There was no personal touch at all, no simple conversation with the servers, no meal suggestions, no after dinner coffee offering. It was just bad service left and right. Bang, bang, bang, go, go, go. A race to get us out of there. We purposely slowed down, and because of this, we got even worse service.
PROs: For the first few days, the ship was emaculate! Sparkling clean!
CONs: You'll notice on most cruise ships that there aren't trash cans anywhere... this is because crew members walk around collecting trash and empty glasses constantly, keeping everything clean and tidy. This ship had a lack of this service. There were always glasses and garbage laying on tables and lining the hallways. They need to get on top of this. In the evening, the decks are littered with glasses, plates, watermelon rinds, cigarettes, and even a DIRTY DIAPER, just laying in the middle of the deck!!!! So gross.
PRO's: Crew members were very friendly and professional. As seen on other ships, they are always smiling and greeting you. At one point, we left a bag at a bar. It was promptly taken to the lost and found at guest services. I thought that was excellent protocol.
CON's: We had to call guest services multiple times because our room attendant was MIA, as mentioned earlier. Whether they notified the proper department to help us or come to our room, their actions never followed through. Guest services was friendly, but they never really helped.
PROs: There are many bars and they all serve pretty much they same stuff. That's good if you're looking for a cappuccino because you don't have to scope out a coffee place. There was a drink of the day each day, and the few that we tried were excellent! (Get the "rock lobster" and the "frozen toblerone"!!!)
CONs: We read before the cruise about a specialty coffee bar... but we never found it. You can get coffee anywhere though. Bar service in the atrium is generally slow, don't be surprised, it's the busiest place on the ship! Some of the bars close really early, I was very surprised by this, especially when you're trying to get an after dinner coffee. There was no bar service in the theater, which was different than other ships.
PROs: It was nice to see the officers around the ship. Some ate in the dining room at the same time we did. You can see all of the individual officers or department managers on the cruise channel on the tv in your room.
CONs: The cruise director seemed very inexperienced. I don't think the captain (the master) made one announcement on the whole trip and the cruise director made a quick, unenthusiastic announcement each day. I thought this was unusual and uninviting.
This is a European cruise line. You need to know that before booking a trip on this ship. The ship is comprised of mainly european guests... we felt like the only English speaking individuals on the ship, even though obviously we weren't. We met two other couples that spoke english and were from the USA, which was a mutual relief. With that said, it was very obvious that cultural norms differ between the guests on board. If you haven't been to Europe, you need to know a few things: personal space will not exist, some guests are rude and pushy, and American men will be the only ones in full swim trunks. In the buffet, it is "cut throat Euro" as we called it - pushy, loud, sneezy, no manners, and foreign guests will cut the lines... being oblivious to any sense of sanitation was also an annoyance. Get ready for this.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - We really enjoyed this port even though we didn't get there until 5pm. This cut out almost all possibility of doing excursions, so we just made our own day of it. We walked along the sea wall to a fort and then meandered into the 'city'. Old San Juan is very easy to navigate, we did it without a map. We stumbled upon a rustic pizza place which rocked and a beer tap house. We were very happy with our day in San Juan. You'll notice there are so many stray cats. Some areas smell like cat litter because the locals try to take care of the cats. This was a fun port.
Saint Thomas - We booked an excursion through vacationstogo.com to spend the day at Coral World and swim with the sea turtles. The MSC website had very little excursions to offer, so we looked elsewhere. Coral World was not as exciting as we thought it would be, you can get through the 'mini sea world' in an hour. Swimming with the sea turtle was awesome though! Great experience! Afterwards, we walked to a nearby beach that was packed.... swam in the ocean for a bit, and caught a cab back to the cruise port.
Saint Martin - This was my favorite port. We book the ATV island adventure through vacationstogo.com and it was a blast. A shuttle took us to the excursion depot. There were about 8 of us on this excursion. The ATVs were brand new and in great condition. The tour guide took us all over the island. We went to the famous Sunset Beach where the airplanes fly really low over the beach down to the airport. That was pretty cool to see, although it was packed as expected. We rode through a lot of different towns on the island and explored both the french and the dutch sides of the island. The french side was really neat... we went to a nude beach for about 30 minutes. We didn't strip down, but we swam in the water which was perfect. The ATV tour took us off roading for a bit too which was fun. Before heading back onto the ship, I got some chocolate bars at a Belgian chocolate hut near the ship. Yum!
Nassau - This was the most disappointing day. We had been to the Atlantis Resort in the past, which I recommend, so we tried to find something different. The excursion desk highly recommended the private Blue Lagoon Island because it was supposed to have the best beaches and a smaller number of guests. It was a 30 minute ferry over to the island and it was disappointing when we got there. I do not recommend it at all. It is a highly developed, kind of 'fake' island. Only 1 beach was open which was inside a small bay. The water only got to about 2 1/2 feet deep at it's deepest point. Not much of an experience. A buffet lunch was included which was really sad. We were worried about getting food poisoning. If you are considering a 'private island' type of excursion, look into Balmoral island... it was the other island we could've chosen. Hindsight.
After weighing all the pros and cons and talking with other guests on the ship about their comparisons to other cruising experiences, we will probably not cruise with MSC again. The low scores for service, dining, and entertainment may be unique just to this ship, but it is enough to deter us from MSC altogether. To cruise on this line again, I would have to get a killer deal for a different ship. We still enjoyed ourselves and had a great time for what we like to do, but it wasn't very memorable overall.
250,000+ people have entered their email
Summary of CONs: (These CONs are not nitpicky, they come from a culmination of experiences from all the cruises we've been on) No kidding, this room was extremely loud. We couldn't figure out where the noises were coming from. There was a chocolate shop above us and nothing below us and we were not directly near stairs or elevators. This is the best way I can explain the noises... there was a sound that was like a huge metal cart being slammed down metal stairs and crashing SO LOUD at the bottom that you almost have a heart attack at the jolt of how LOUD it was. In the middle of the night it happened multiple times. There was also a constant metal ratcheting/hoisting and grinding tool sound that would not stop, and it was LOUD. The sounds were similar to construction noises, which didn't make sense because major construction would not be done in the middle of the night/early morning, right? These noises were so loud and constant that we barely got any sleep. Between trying to nap during the day (and not being able to because of the sounds) and not being able to sleep at night (even with earplugs), we were exhausted the whole trip. Imagine being jolted awake by what sounds like a car crashing through your ceiling right on top of you.... that is what room 5128 will deliver to you. We complained A LOT about it... not one person came to investigate or explain what it was.
Also, service was terrible. There is no direct way to contact your room attendant. We saw our attendant 2 times, when we initially got into the room and down the hall during disembarkation. No idea what his name was. We did not get pool towels daily, we got the daily planner at late hours of the night, our dishes/glasses were never cleaned out of our room, and our tv/remote broke twice. We had to leave him notes on the bed to get anything done. (When talking to other passengers, we were not the only ones surprised by the lack of service, some instances were exactly like ours described above, especially the notes) When we did need something, like towels, we had to call the general guest help desk..... we called 5 times in one day, they had to 'notify the supervisor' that our requests weren't being met... towels came 12 hours later.
Also, I paid for an embarkation day package.... it was a bottle of champagne and nice french style snacks and breads that were supposed to be set up in the room before we got there. It was a surprise for my husband. Needless to say, it wasn't there. The room attendant had no idea and I had to call room service to figure it out.. So much for a surprise. It finally was delivered about 4 hours later. By then, we had already gone out to a champagne bar to get our 'happy cruise day' fix.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
MiamiGreat port. We did an AirBNB instead of a hotel and it worked out perfectly. We went to several breweries and ended up having dinner at Casablanca on the Bay, which I totally recommend. Took an UBER to the cruise pier which was incredibly easy.View All 2,395 Miami Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Miami Cruise Port Review
San JuanOld San Juan, Puerto Rico - We really enjoyed this port even though we didn't get there until 5pm. This cut out almost all possibility of doing excursions, so we just made our own day of it. We walked along the sea wall to a fort and then meandered into the 'city'. Old San Juan is very easy to navigate, we did it without a map. We stumbled upon a rustic pizza place which rocked and a beer tap house. We were very happy with our day in San Juan. You'll notice there are so many stray cats. Some areas smell like cat litter because the locals try to take care of the cats. This was a fun port.View All 3,767 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
ATV TourThis was my favorite port. We book the ATV island adventure through vacationstogo.com and it was a blast. A shuttle took us to the excursion depot. There were about 8 of us on this excursion. The ATVs were brand new and in great condition. The tour guide took us all over the island. We went to the famous Sunset Beach where the airplanes fly really low over the beach down to the airport. That was pretty cool to see, although it was packed as expected. We rode through a lot of different towns on the island and explored both the french and the dutch sides of the island. The french side was really neat... we went to a nude beach for about 30 minutes. We didn't strip down, but we swam in the water which was perfect. The ATV tour took us off roading for a bit too which was fun. Before heading back onto the ship, I got some chocolate bars at a Belgian chocolate hut near the ship. Yum!View All 7 ATV Tour Reviews
Coral World TourWe booked an excursion through vacationstogo.com to spend the day at Coral World and swim with the sea turtles. The MSC website had very little excursions to offer, so we looked elsewhere. Coral World was not as exciting as we thought it would be, you can get through the 'mini sea world' in an hour. Swimming with the sea turtle was awesome though! Great experience! Afterwards, we walked to a nearby beach that was packed.... swam in the ocean for a bit, and caught a cab back to the cruise port.View All 75 Coral World Tour Reviews
Turtle SwimWe booked an excursion through vacationstogo.com to spend the day at Coral World and swim with the sea turtles. The MSC website had very little excursions to offer, so we looked elsewhere. Coral World was not as exciting as we thought it would be, you can get through the 'mini sea world' in an hour. Swimming with the sea turtle was awesome though! Great experience! Afterwards, we walked to a nearby beach that was packed.... swam in the ocean for a bit, and caught a cab back to the cruise port.View All 83 Turtle Swim Reviews