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We originally booked this cruise on black friday, as MSC was giving away the drinks on us promo, and a good price on a balcony room. I had done a bunch of research, watched a ton of youtube vids, and read a bunch of reviews. I have to say this helped out a lot, and prepared us for the week for the most part. Embarkation wasn't too bad..probably an hour from arriving to actual embarkation (we were there 2 hours before our assigned boarding time). The ship is absolutely stunning! From the infinity bridge and bridge of sighs, to the atrium and staircases, it's really a beautiful ship! We only ate in the main dining room (Ipanema) 3 of the 7 nights. The food was ok, but our server I think misunderstood us (and our table mates) on a couple of occasions. The food was hit and miss, with the breads, pastas, and seafood all pretty great. The prime rib was also very good, but the steak we ordered one night was a little too fatty for our taste. We did the Teppanyaki specialty restaurant the first night, since we sailed at 5pm, and our MDR time was 5:15. This way we could watch the sail away. I highly recommend the Teppanyaki!!! It was so good, we actually went again friday night with some friends we made the first night. As for the buffets....well, they were buffets. Just be prepared for it to be a total cluster, as everyone cuts in and out of line to get what they want/need. They will always have the standard pizza, hot dogs, burgers, salads, and breads, with occasional other fares. I was really looking forward to the pizza, as I know they make it from scratch...it is good, but was light on the cheese. I still ate it quite a bit, though. We spent most of the time at the Miami beach pool on deck 16. We avoided the South beach pool on deck 7, as all the smokers are there and we don't smoke. I thought the bar tenders were excellent! Only a few times (mostly on sea days) was it crowded and had to wait a while for a drink. The key for me was to tip a couple of the bartenders early on, so they remember you (Ruffy ALWAYS took care of me, called me by name, etc., while Happy, Nigel, and Leo all took care of me) The other key is to BE NICE to them! I know they can get a lot of pushy drinkers coming at them, so calling them out by name, saying hello, and generally being a good guest goes a long way to getting good service, IMHO. We don't have kids, but the kids pool area looked like a lot of fun for the kids that were there. I'm a big kid, so I can't count how many times I tried the waterslides! I also rode the zip line about 3 times, so I could get a good GoPro shot. Make sure when you get there, to sign the waiver for the waterpark and zip line early..especially before sea day when the lines are really long! Another tip: I registered my credit card to my shipboard card right after getting on the ship. There are several kiosks around that will let you so this, although you technically have 48 hours. You can also get a wristband that links to your shipboard account, which is $5. That way, you can tap your wristband to their point of sale tablets. Speaking of tech: The MSC for Me app is pretty good overall! It has an interactive ship map (although didn't always tell me the right floor I was on), and would give you access to your shipboard account summary...really useful to see how much you've spent on board! It would have been nice to have a chat feature build in, but that's why they push the internet packages so much I suppose. Speaking of which: we did NOT have the Wifi package, but we still kept getting regular app notifications on our phones, even though we were in airplane mode and mobile data turned off. To the best of my knowledge, we were not charged for that. We didn't do any of the shows, with the exception of Beer Prov (which I recommend...really funny!!). We heard from others that the shows were really good! I did go to karaoke out on the Miami Beach pool deck a couple of times, which I wish was longer (but that's just me). The white party is a lot of fun too, although we were pretty wiped from back-to-back shore days. So if you are of a certain age and want to go to things like the white party, take a nap! LOL. The entertainment in the atrium and various bars seemed to be the same musicians. I would have liked to see some different musicians play in the atrium, as it always seemed to be acoustic Chris (I wasn't a fan of some of his song renditions at times, but was ok). I heard they used to be mostly opera, so at least this is a little better. Speaking of shore days, the biggest beef I had was the itinerary. I knew what it was going in, and still booked it anyway. San Juan arrives at 5pm, and leaves at 1am, St. Thomas from 7am-7pm (was ok with this), and St. Maarten from 7am-2pm, which is WAY TOO SHORT!! MSC needs to extend this by a couple of hours at least. Nassau was 12-7pm. We walked around San Juan with some friends, and went to a place called Punto de Vista (which I had researched online before going, and highly recommend!). We booked the Panoramic shopping & Magen's bay tour through MSC, which was pretty good. For St. Maarten, we took a taxi to Maho beach. If you go: they have a large taxi stand just off the pier, where they have a a few taxi vans. I believe it was $16/pp, and they give you a colored wristband to show you have a pre-paid ride back to the cruise port (we were the only ship in port that day, BTW). I HIGHLY recommend going to Maho beach to watch the planes land low. Again, not enough time do this and see all the bigger jets land, so you have to leave around 12n to make it back on time. For Nassau, we didn't do any excursions, but just walked around town near the pier. I honestly could have done without Nassau, or would have preferred getting in early enough to try the Atlantis water park. Getting in that late in the day doesn't really make it worth the money IMHO, as it only works out to being a 1/2 day. Overall, my girlfriend and I had a wonderful time on this cruise! It definitely has a European flavor to it, as I heard a lot of German, French, and Italian cruisers around me. Again, be prepared for the buffet free-for-all, especially at the coffee stations in the morning! If you have anything above Bella experience, it might be worth going with room service for coffee, as we did for a couple of the days. Also, do your research on the drink packages before you buy one! We had the drinks on us, which honestly was just fine most of the time. We did pay for some of the frozen drinks at times, but stuck mostly to DOU. If you have the Easy package, again..know what's included and what isn't. Also, they will add the service charge (12.50/pp per day to your bill somewhere around the 4th day, so don't freak out when you see a large charge, they put it on your bill earlier, rather than at the end). Finally one other note: If you are staying towards the front of the ship, and want to go to Miami beach pool or the buffet, go to the midship or aft elevators. Otherwise, you end up a the specialty restaurants, and cannot go through unless you go up to 18 or down to 15 and cut across. Just remember...you are on vacation, so don't let little things (or people) ruin it for you!!! Enjoy yourselves!!

More hits than misses, beautiful ship..overall great vacation!

MSC Seaside Cruise Review by flyinbrian

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aurea Balcony Stateroom
We originally booked this cruise on black friday, as MSC was giving away the drinks on us promo, and a good price on a balcony room. I had done a bunch of research, watched a ton of youtube vids, and read a bunch of reviews. I have to say this helped out a lot, and prepared us for the week for the most part.

Embarkation wasn't too bad..probably an hour from arriving to actual embarkation (we were there 2 hours before our assigned boarding time). The ship is absolutely stunning! From the infinity bridge and bridge of sighs, to the atrium and staircases, it's really a beautiful ship!

We only ate in the main dining room (Ipanema) 3 of the 7 nights. The food was ok, but our server I think misunderstood us (and our table mates) on a couple of occasions. The food was hit and miss, with the breads, pastas, and seafood all pretty great. The prime rib was also very good, but the steak we ordered one night was a little too fatty for our taste. We did the Teppanyaki specialty restaurant the first night, since we sailed at 5pm, and our MDR time was 5:15. This way we could watch the sail away. I highly recommend the Teppanyaki!!! It was so good, we actually went again friday night with some friends we made the first night. As for the buffets....well, they were buffets. Just be prepared for it to be a total cluster, as everyone cuts in and out of line to get what they want/need. They will always have the standard pizza, hot dogs, burgers, salads, and breads, with occasional other fares. I was really looking forward to the pizza, as I know they make it from scratch...it is good, but was light on the cheese. I still ate it quite a bit, though.

We spent most of the time at the Miami beach pool on deck 16. We avoided the South beach pool on deck 7, as all the smokers are there and we don't smoke. I thought the bar tenders were excellent! Only a few times (mostly on sea days) was it crowded and had to wait a while for a drink. The key for me was to tip a couple of the bartenders early on, so they remember you (Ruffy ALWAYS took care of me, called me by name, etc., while Happy, Nigel, and Leo all took care of me) The other key is to BE NICE to them! I know they can get a lot of pushy drinkers coming at them, so calling them out by name, saying hello, and generally being a good guest goes a long way to getting good service, IMHO.

We don't have kids, but the kids pool area looked like a lot of fun for the kids that were there. I'm a big kid, so I can't count how many times I tried the waterslides! I also rode the zip line about 3 times, so I could get a good GoPro shot. Make sure when you get there, to sign the waiver for the waterpark and zip line early..especially before sea day when the lines are really long! Another tip: I registered my credit card to my shipboard card right after getting on the ship. There are several kiosks around that will let you so this, although you technically have 48 hours. You can also get a wristband that links to your shipboard account, which is $5. That way, you can tap your wristband to their point of sale tablets.

Speaking of tech: The MSC for Me app is pretty good overall! It has an interactive ship map (although didn't always tell me the right floor I was on), and would give you access to your shipboard account summary...really useful to see how much you've spent on board! It would have been nice to have a chat feature build in, but that's why they push the internet packages so much I suppose. Speaking of which: we did NOT have the Wifi package, but we still kept getting regular app notifications on our phones, even though we were in airplane mode and mobile data turned off. To the best of my knowledge, we were not charged for that.

We didn't do any of the shows, with the exception of Beer Prov (which I recommend...really funny!!). We heard from others that the shows were really good! I did go to karaoke out on the Miami Beach pool deck a couple of times, which I wish was longer (but that's just me). The white party is a lot of fun too, although we were pretty wiped from back-to-back shore days. So if you are of a certain age and want to go to things like the white party, take a nap! LOL. The entertainment in the atrium and various bars seemed to be the same musicians. I would have liked to see some different musicians play in the atrium, as it always seemed to be acoustic Chris (I wasn't a fan of some of his song renditions at times, but was ok). I heard they used to be mostly opera, so at least this is a little better.

Speaking of shore days, the biggest beef I had was the itinerary. I knew what it was going in, and still booked it anyway. San Juan arrives at 5pm, and leaves at 1am, St. Thomas from 7am-7pm (was ok with this), and St. Maarten from 7am-2pm, which is WAY TOO SHORT!! MSC needs to extend this by a couple of hours at least. Nassau was 12-7pm. We walked around San Juan with some friends, and went to a place called Punto de Vista (which I had researched online before going, and highly recommend!). We booked the Panoramic shopping & Magen's bay tour through MSC, which was pretty good. For St. Maarten, we took a taxi to Maho beach. If you go: they have a large taxi stand just off the pier, where they have a a few taxi vans. I believe it was $16/pp, and they give you a colored wristband to show you have a pre-paid ride back to the cruise port (we were the only ship in port that day, BTW). I HIGHLY recommend going to Maho beach to watch the planes land low. Again, not enough time do this and see all the bigger jets land, so you have to leave around 12n to make it back on time. For Nassau, we didn't do any excursions, but just walked around town near the pier. I honestly could have done without Nassau, or would have preferred getting in early enough to try the Atlantis water park. Getting in that late in the day doesn't really make it worth the money IMHO, as it only works out to being a 1/2 day.

Overall, my girlfriend and I had a wonderful time on this cruise! It definitely has a European flavor to it, as I heard a lot of German, French, and Italian cruisers around me. Again, be prepared for the buffet free-for-all, especially at the coffee stations in the morning! If you have anything above Bella experience, it might be worth going with room service for coffee, as we did for a couple of the days. Also, do your research on the drink packages before you buy one! We had the drinks on us, which honestly was just fine most of the time. We did pay for some of the frozen drinks at times, but stuck mostly to DOU. If you have the Easy package, again..know what's included and what isn't. Also, they will add the service charge (12.50/pp per day to your bill somewhere around the 4th day, so don't freak out when you see a large charge, they put it on your bill earlier, rather than at the end). Finally one other note: If you are staying towards the front of the ship, and want to go to Miami beach pool or the buffet, go to the midship or aft elevators. Otherwise, you end up a the specialty restaurants, and cannot go through unless you go up to 18 or down to 15 and cut across.

Just remember...you are on vacation, so don't let little things (or people) ruin it for you!!! Enjoy yourselves!!
flyinbrian’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Aurea Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B3 9037
We originally booked a Bella Balcony, but were upgraded to an Aurea (B3) balcony. These balconies are extended outward, and are usually at the front or rear of the ships on deck 9. They come with loungers, so when the pool was packed, we could sun out on our own balcony. The bed was confortable enough for our taste, however the closet was a little tricky to navigate...not to mention the bed was only 12 in. or so from the closet, so you really did not have much room. We also brought some extra foldable hangers, as they only come with about 10-12 hangers. The bathroom is ok, but the toilet is small...so for "fluffier" passengers, it will be a bit tricky to navigate. The shower has a detachable head, and comes with a shampoo and shower gel dispensers, which are ok. We brought our own anyway.
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