We were a family of four traveling for our first Mediterranean cruise with two teenagers. We have taken multiple cruises before on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival, so we thought we would give the relatively new MSC Seaview a try. The price for our family was certainly enticing.
In short, here is how we would grade our experience:
Room size and cleanliness: A
Food quality: D
Entertainment quality: C
Itinerary and Time at each port: B
If you are looking for a cruise vacation, this is probably not it. If you are looking for a comfortable hotel room and transportation from point A to point B, this cruise would serve you fine.
Let be begin with the good. We had a balcony cabin on the 10th floor of the port side. The balcony was great given the weather. We enjoyed sitting on it and watching the sights in and out of the ports. It also gave us extra room which was out of the way while others in our family were getting dressed. The cabin had a queen size bed and a sofa that converted into bunk beds rather than a pull out bed. The bunk beds were a lifesaver with two teenagers and avoided many arguments and complaints. The room was spacious for a cruise ship as was the bathroom and shower. The bathroom had fantastic water pressure which was a great surprise. Our room steward did a great job keeping us supplied with fresh towels and working around our time in the room. The room TV had plenty of stations with maybe 6-7 in each language. However, even the American programming in other languages did not have subtitle capabilities which would have been nice. The English language selections were all 24 hour news stations which included CNN, CNBC and 3-4 European news stations. It is hard to relax and unwind to that before bed.
The common area was a bit plain but nice. The elevators utilized a system that directed you to a specific elevator based upon destination. It is meant to speed things up but always resulted in long waits at the elevators. So we ended up going up and down countless flights of stairs each day.
The cruise was truly international with what seemed to be a passenger population made up of those speaking Italian, French, Russian, various Asian languages, English, German and Spanish. The staff did a great job being multi lingual, making announcements and communicating fluently in each of those languages. That was impressive. The entertainment encompassed all of those languages which was great. But the shows etc. on board could best be described as “low energy.” If you are doing a Tina Turner tribute show, having dancers and singers dragging through the show with a slow tempo and little smiling just seemed like they were going through the paces. Definitely not Tina Turner like. The other periodic entertainment was excessively campy and seemed like a continual loop of the Gong Show or Sabado Gigante. On our last night, we found a duo playing piano and drums singing in a lounge, and they alternated performance sets with a solo guitarist/vocalist. Both were really good and better than the more featured acts on the ship. I wish we had discovered them earlier... We also walked through a very small casino that was on board. It seemed very sparse and small. It did not have any craps tables which was a first for me in a casino.
The cruise itinerary was good and generally allowed sufficient time in each port. There were no dedicated days at sea on this itinerary for which we were grateful. However, at Palma, Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain, the cruise ports were outside of the city so you were forced to take a taxi or a ship provided shuttle at an extra cost to go into the city. If the cruise line chooses to utilize these ports outside of the destination city, then they should provide transportation into the port city without nickel and diming their passengers for the costs of transportation on the cruise line’s shuttles into the city.
My biggest concern about this cruise was the food quality. It was terrible. I tried to be very open minded given the multinational nature of the cruise but nothing I had of any cuisine was good. All of the food was edible but not good. The food was often cold and bland. We tried both the sit down dining option and the marketplace buffet. Those were the only options at night unless you paid for the three premium restaurant options which we did not. The same food, the same quality and the same temperature seemed to be served at both venues. The only difference is that the sit down dining had more limited options, and we had slow service with a lot of waiting with a waiter who did not even seem to understand her own menu. For those of you that love Pepsi, you are in luck as all of the soft drinks on board are Pepsi products. For those of us that don’t, there was always beer. In the dining room we were charged for still water. In the marketplace buffet, we were not charged for still water but they only had 1 working water dispenser for all of the passengers. The plastic cups for your water were limited to 6 ounce cups. It is hard to stay hydrated at that rate. The coffee on the cruise was generally above average. Most of the time we paid for premium coffee at the bars which was worth it to us coffee drinkers. The best we found was that made by “Don” at the Venchi Chocolate and Coffee Bar. It was great and worth the extra charge. Finally, the dining themes were ridiculous. Each night was a different theme in name only. The actual theme seemed to be “Sunday night clean out the household refrigerator”. The dishes were a hodge-podge of whatever seemed to be laying around. For example, the Bavarian theme night was the everyday items plus the addition of a roast pork loin and a cold potato salad. That made it Bavarian night. Nothing else Bavarian was served. On Mexican night, the usual items were supplemented by some puréed avocado and some very julienned pieces of beef mixed with julienned strips of peppers. They called that beef fajitas. That was the sum total of what made it Mexican night. I will give the ship credit that their breads and croissants were made well and tasty. But unfortunately my scale is going to reflect that I lived on mostly bread and coffee while onboard. The part that I find most interesting is that for an Italian cruise line, based in the Mediterranean with multinational passengers, the Italian dishes were the worst offerings. The pizza was bland, soggy and doughy; the pasta was over cooked and soaked in bland tomato or a watery white sauce; and the deserts were basic, unimaginative and tasteless. We could not wait to get off the ship each day to eat at a street vendor, market or restaurant. We were never disappointed with any of the food we found on land.
In summary, if you are looking for a comfortable place to sleep and transportation from point A to point B, this cruise will serve you well. If you are looking for the whole cruise experience to include great food and entertainment, look elsewhere.
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