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First time on MSC; cruised Feb 2-9 from Miami. Took advantage of the status match from Royal Caribbean Diamond to MSC Black Card. Booked Aurea balcony; at the time of our booking, this package included the Premium drink package, which is basically any drink up to $12. If you book now, the drink package includes the lower "Easy Package" but we were grandfathered in to the higher one, which included frozen drinks, a lot of the martinis (Grey Goose, Cointreau, as examples of brands included). We were VERY happy with the package, but the ability to actually use the package and get service was an obstacle course of exhausting difficulty every single time at every single bar, every single bartender. As embarkation and cabin were basically the same to us as RCCL, i'll skip the detail there... A+ for cabin comfort and cleanliness and B+ for embarkation efficiency... sort of confusing pathways, and both getting on and off, one escalator was down, but still pretty quick. There wasn't a ton of "night life" on board... live entertainment was OK but not much for dance music. A lot of old standards and easy listening. Casino was OK, but hubby wanted to play craps and there are no craps tables... played blackjack instead. Quality of food was excellent; the casual buffets were much better executed on MSC. While Windjammer was always jam-packed and very hard to find a seat, with too many people for the size, the Seaside had two buffet venues with plenty of seating. Used the 8th deck Marketplace Buffet for most breakfasts and lunches. We thought the food was better quality; much of it was exactly the same, but the hot items seemed better, from the burgers and pizza to the chicken, fish, pasta, breads, and desserts. Nice touch of having self-serve beer and wine available; just use cruise card or wristband to pay at convenient beverage stations. Many more non-alcoholic beverage choices also, not just water, coffee, tea, lemonade as on RCCL. Buttons on tables allow you to call a server over if you want to order specialty coffee or cocktails - super efficient! Also loved that as you enter the buffet, they have hand-washing stations on both sides... huge improvement over squirting your hands with smelly sanitizer... actually washing your hands right before entering is a much better idea! A+ for the buffet restaurants! Specialty restaurants were a mixed experience; food was generally from very good to really fantastic, so A+ again for food quality. Service was spotty and inconsistent -- C. The packages we booked were also disappointing and misleading... we were fine with what we ultimately ended up with, but annoyed that the packages were sold under misrepresentation. We booked the "Trio" on line a few weeks before the cruise, taking advantage of the "save 20% by booking ahead" offer. Nothing mentioned about this offer having restrictions on the menu, it was only touted as "save by pre-purchasing" and also "save by booking all three" vs one at a time. Paid $89 per person for three nights; one in Asian Fusion, one in Ocean Cay Seafood, one in Butcher's Cut steakhouse. Considering that the price of the cruise already includes DINNER, and then we paid another roughly $30 per person, i did not expect to be shown a menu with a little box on the left side for my choices... turns out that if you buy this package, you don't get to order from the regular menu, you only have certain selections available. As Asian Fusion, we were very happy with what we had - no complaints other than feeling like a second-class citizen despite paying for an upgraded dinner. No complaints at the steakhouse; the filet i wanted was one of the options. The seafood restaurant was ridiculous though. All of the items that i thought we could order were not available on the "package". Sorry.... thought i bought the seafood restaurant package, but no... for entrees, we could choose from Mediterranean Sea Bass (not anything like Chilean in case you love that like we do), Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab (fried spiders in my opinion) or "Warm Oysters" which were sort of blech... and the fourth entree was a vegetarian mushroom pasta. Seriously. Two additional entrees not available, and even one dessert not available, priced at a lofty one additional dollar over the ones we could order. Gee. Could I get that dessert if I give you another single? Just seemed ridiculous. As for service, in the steakhouse, despite the server punching our order into his hand-held tablet and then reading it back to us correctly, we were served wrong appetizers. Exact same thing in seafood restaurant... server read it back to us exactly as we ordered, then brought the wrong entree to hubby, and seemed thoroughly bewildered when he asked for the sea bass he ordered. Weird. We also purchased the Asian-trio, which was another night in Asian Fusion restaurant, one teppanyaki (excellent all the way around) and one night sushi. Same restrictions... here's the menu, and here are the items you can choose from. Four sushi rolls to pick from, with another 5 or 6 that were not available to us. As i said, we ended up being OK with what we ordered, but I think the way they pitched and sold the dinner packages was very dishonest and misleading. My final criticism is for the abysmal bar service. OMG it could not have been worse under any circumstance. We are easy bar customers and we tip very well; made a point to get cash for tips ahead of time, as you can't add a tip to your check at the bar or in the restaurant. From sitting at an empty bar waiting 5-10 minutes for the fruit-cutting, glass-polishing, beer-can-stocking bartender to saunter past us 4X before making eye contact to being completely ignored for 15 minutes... i really felt i was in a hidden camera video testing customer tolerance. Early on, we started to suspect that our wristbands, which were given as part of the Aurea (drinks included) package might have marked us as either "non tippers since their drinks are included" or "drinks included, so serve them as slowly as possible to keep their consumption down". I have been a bartender and a server in several places in my past, and have managed restaurants, bars, resorts for many years. i have never witnessed such consistent apathy, lethargy, nearly passive-aggressive behavior from bartenders. They acted like they could not have cared less for our satisfaction. It felt like they were playing a game to see how many minutes could elapse before they had to interact with us... even after we ordered our drinks, they would wander all over behind the bar, making the whole process just a maddening show of inefficiency. Despite the crappiest service we have ever received, we tipped cash anyway, hoping they would maybe pay attention to us when our glasses were totally empty, or maybe when we came back the next night, but this really did not happen. After getting my drinks wrong several times and drinking them anyway, i finally just started ordering vodka on the rocks. This alone will probably make the difference when we book our next cruise... we enjoy having a drink or two before dinner every night and this was a very negative buzz-kill no matter which bar we tried. Grade F on bar service. We embarked on Feb 2, so the SuperBowl was the next day. We were excited about going to the sports bar for this, as they had a ton of TV's and a big screen... thought this would be great fun! Instead, the only way you could go to the sports bar to watch the game was to purchase a package at $130 PER PERSON, which included free drinks (which we have already paid for in our package) and "American favorites" snacks (aka bar food). So basically, since we can get those same American favorites in the buffet restaurant all day, every day, and since our drinks are already included in the package we paid for, the $130 per person is for a seat in the bar. no thank you. they advertised this numerous times over the PA system, "... only a few seats left... purchase your SuperBowl package now before it's too late!!!!!" Huge marketing gaffe by MSC... we walked by the bar a few times during the game... looked like they sold MAYBE 10 packages, so the bar was virtually empty... 15-20 empty barstools, empty tables, etc. Felt very sorry for the 8-10 people that gave them another $130 for that. We had the Aurea package, and the spa experience was excellent! Massages were fantastic, as were pedicure and facial... excellent service by everyone in this area. Used the thermal area several times; great experience! The jacuzzi/spa in this area was explosive and powerful; great for sore muscles. The sauna and steam rooms were very good, although every day one or more of these rooms were out of service for one reason or another. Interesting line up of hot and cold aromatherapy showers, a fun snow room for a few seconds if you can stand it, and the Himalayan salt room, which we didn't spend any time in as the lounges weren't comfortable. Everything kept very clean and inviting, and mostly in working order -- A- As compared to RCCL, i thought the ship was very clean and well-maintained, maybe slightly better. Wish there had been more options for a quiet pool experience... there was one adult pool (yay) but it was very tiny. The jungle pool was for kids, and the large outdoor pool in the middle was extremely crowded and loud with announcements/games. Much has been said about the other passengers on this line... as far as friendliness, I felt most seemed as friendly as any other cruise we've taken, they just spoke different languages, so there wasn't a lot of conversation with others for us... we heard a lot of Spanish, French, German but rarely did we hear other passengers speaking English. Didn't bother us at all, just missed some of the fellow-passenger chit chat in the restaurants, lounges, poolside, etc. Overall, a great week. Ship was beautiful, never really seemed crowded, and food was really good. Only real negatives were the bar service and feeling a little tricked by the dining packages, but still glad we tried MSC. Will probably go back to RCCL or Celebrity for next one though.

Seaside review by RCCL Diamond to first-time Black Card

MSC Seaside Cruise Review by kruz gal

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aurea Balcony Stateroom
First time on MSC; cruised Feb 2-9 from Miami. Took advantage of the status match from Royal Caribbean Diamond to MSC Black Card. Booked Aurea balcony; at the time of our booking, this package included the Premium drink package, which is basically any drink up to $12. If you book now, the drink package includes the lower "Easy Package" but we were grandfathered in to the higher one, which included frozen drinks, a lot of the martinis (Grey Goose, Cointreau, as examples of brands included). We were VERY happy with the package, but the ability to actually use the package and get service was an obstacle course of exhausting difficulty every single time at every single bar, every single bartender.

As embarkation and cabin were basically the same to us as RCCL, i'll skip the detail there... A+ for cabin comfort and cleanliness and B+ for embarkation efficiency... sort of confusing pathways, and both getting on and off, one escalator was down, but still pretty quick.

There wasn't a ton of "night life" on board... live entertainment was OK but not much for dance music. A lot of old standards and easy listening. Casino was OK, but hubby wanted to play craps and there are no craps tables... played blackjack instead.

Quality of food was excellent; the casual buffets were much better executed on MSC. While Windjammer was always jam-packed and very hard to find a seat, with too many people for the size, the Seaside had two buffet venues with plenty of seating. Used the 8th deck Marketplace Buffet for most breakfasts and lunches. We thought the food was better quality; much of it was exactly the same, but the hot items seemed better, from the burgers and pizza to the chicken, fish, pasta, breads, and desserts. Nice touch of having self-serve beer and wine available; just use cruise card or wristband to pay at convenient beverage stations. Many more non-alcoholic beverage choices also, not just water, coffee, tea, lemonade as on RCCL. Buttons on tables allow you to call a server over if you want to order specialty coffee or cocktails - super efficient! Also loved that as you enter the buffet, they have hand-washing stations on both sides... huge improvement over squirting your hands with smelly sanitizer... actually washing your hands right before entering is a much better idea! A+ for the buffet restaurants!

Specialty restaurants were a mixed experience; food was generally from very good to really fantastic, so A+ again for food quality. Service was spotty and inconsistent -- C. The packages we booked were also disappointing and misleading... we were fine with what we ultimately ended up with, but annoyed that the packages were sold under misrepresentation. We booked the "Trio" on line a few weeks before the cruise, taking advantage of the "save 20% by booking ahead" offer. Nothing mentioned about this offer having restrictions on the menu, it was only touted as "save by pre-purchasing" and also "save by booking all three" vs one at a time. Paid $89 per person for three nights; one in Asian Fusion, one in Ocean Cay Seafood, one in Butcher's Cut steakhouse. Considering that the price of the cruise already includes DINNER, and then we paid another roughly $30 per person, i did not expect to be shown a menu with a little box on the left side for my choices... turns out that if you buy this package, you don't get to order from the regular menu, you only have certain selections available. As Asian Fusion, we were very happy with what we had - no complaints other than feeling like a second-class citizen despite paying for an upgraded dinner. No complaints at the steakhouse; the filet i wanted was one of the options. The seafood restaurant was ridiculous though. All of the items that i thought we could order were not available on the "package". Sorry.... thought i bought the seafood restaurant package, but no... for entrees, we could choose from Mediterranean Sea Bass (not anything like Chilean in case you love that like we do), Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab (fried spiders in my opinion) or "Warm Oysters" which were sort of blech... and the fourth entree was a vegetarian mushroom pasta. Seriously. Two additional entrees not available, and even one dessert not available, priced at a lofty one additional dollar over the ones we could order. Gee. Could I get that dessert if I give you another single? Just seemed ridiculous. As for service, in the steakhouse, despite the server punching our order into his hand-held tablet and then reading it back to us correctly, we were served wrong appetizers. Exact same thing in seafood restaurant... server read it back to us exactly as we ordered, then brought the wrong entree to hubby, and seemed thoroughly bewildered when he asked for the sea bass he ordered. Weird. We also purchased the Asian-trio, which was another night in Asian Fusion restaurant, one teppanyaki (excellent all the way around) and one night sushi. Same restrictions... here's the menu, and here are the items you can choose from. Four sushi rolls to pick from, with another 5 or 6 that were not available to us. As i said, we ended up being OK with what we ordered, but I think the way they pitched and sold the dinner packages was very dishonest and misleading.

My final criticism is for the abysmal bar service. OMG it could not have been worse under any circumstance. We are easy bar customers and we tip very well; made a point to get cash for tips ahead of time, as you can't add a tip to your check at the bar or in the restaurant. From sitting at an empty bar waiting 5-10 minutes for the fruit-cutting, glass-polishing, beer-can-stocking bartender to saunter past us 4X before making eye contact to being completely ignored for 15 minutes... i really felt i was in a hidden camera video testing customer tolerance. Early on, we started to suspect that our wristbands, which were given as part of the Aurea (drinks included) package might have marked us as either "non tippers since their drinks are included" or "drinks included, so serve them as slowly as possible to keep their consumption down". I have been a bartender and a server in several places in my past, and have managed restaurants, bars, resorts for many years. i have never witnessed such consistent apathy, lethargy, nearly passive-aggressive behavior from bartenders. They acted like they could not have cared less for our satisfaction. It felt like they were playing a game to see how many minutes could elapse before they had to interact with us... even after we ordered our drinks, they would wander all over behind the bar, making the whole process just a maddening show of inefficiency. Despite the crappiest service we have ever received, we tipped cash anyway, hoping they would maybe pay attention to us when our glasses were totally empty, or maybe when we came back the next night, but this really did not happen. After getting my drinks wrong several times and drinking them anyway, i finally just started ordering vodka on the rocks. This alone will probably make the difference when we book our next cruise... we enjoy having a drink or two before dinner every night and this was a very negative buzz-kill no matter which bar we tried. Grade F on bar service.

We embarked on Feb 2, so the SuperBowl was the next day. We were excited about going to the sports bar for this, as they had a ton of TV's and a big screen... thought this would be great fun! Instead, the only way you could go to the sports bar to watch the game was to purchase a package at $130 PER PERSON, which included free drinks (which we have already paid for in our package) and "American favorites" snacks (aka bar food). So basically, since we can get those same American favorites in the buffet restaurant all day, every day, and since our drinks are already included in the package we paid for, the $130 per person is for a seat in the bar. no thank you. they advertised this numerous times over the PA system, "... only a few seats left... purchase your SuperBowl package now before it's too late!!!!!" Huge marketing gaffe by MSC... we walked by the bar a few times during the game... looked like they sold MAYBE 10 packages, so the bar was virtually empty... 15-20 empty barstools, empty tables, etc. Felt very sorry for the 8-10 people that gave them another $130 for that.

We had the Aurea package, and the spa experience was excellent! Massages were fantastic, as were pedicure and facial... excellent service by everyone in this area. Used the thermal area several times; great experience! The jacuzzi/spa in this area was explosive and powerful; great for sore muscles. The sauna and steam rooms were very good, although every day one or more of these rooms were out of service for one reason or another. Interesting line up of hot and cold aromatherapy showers, a fun snow room for a few seconds if you can stand it, and the Himalayan salt room, which we didn't spend any time in as the lounges weren't comfortable. Everything kept very clean and inviting, and mostly in working order -- A-

As compared to RCCL, i thought the ship was very clean and well-maintained, maybe slightly better. Wish there had been more options for a quiet pool experience... there was one adult pool (yay) but it was very tiny. The jungle pool was for kids, and the large outdoor pool in the middle was extremely crowded and loud with announcements/games.

Much has been said about the other passengers on this line... as far as friendliness, I felt most seemed as friendly as any other cruise we've taken, they just spoke different languages, so there wasn't a lot of conversation with others for us... we heard a lot of Spanish, French, German but rarely did we hear other passengers speaking English. Didn't bother us at all, just missed some of the fellow-passenger chit chat in the restaurants, lounges, poolside, etc.

Overall, a great week. Ship was beautiful, never really seemed crowded, and food was really good. Only real negatives were the bar service and feeling a little tricked by the dining packages, but still glad we tried MSC. Will probably go back to RCCL or Celebrity for next one though.
kruz gal’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Aurea Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B3 9041
Very clean and adequate; good sized balcony with both chairs and chaise lounges. Very little drawer space, but we didn't have a problem... no shelves and only one drawer at the desk/dresser. Bed typically uncomfortable... like a king-sized cot :(
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