We sailed on the Seaview out of Barcelona on 1 June 2019 for 7 nights. We were a party of 3 - Me, my wife (both 36) and our 4 year old daughter. My wife and I had cruised before (one Princess to Caribbean and one Celebrity to Central America) but both were pre-child.
Prior to the cruise I read the mixed reviews and was a little apprehensive, but thankfully had a very enjoyable cruise.
Embarkation was very smooth. We boarded in Barcelona. Our ticket had an embarkation time if 2.30pm, but we turned up at about 11.30am and it was no bother.
We stayed in a Fantastica balcony cabin which had a Queen size bed, and the sofa had been converted into a single bed. I ended up in the single bed due to 4 year old 'sleeping issues' but it was actually very comfortable, as was the Queen sized bed according to my wife!
The cabin was well laid out, and still had that 'shiny and new' feel to it. The wardrobe space was a bit limited but we got by.
My review is limited to the extent that we were in bed most nights by 10pm due to the little one being an early riser, so I am not able to comment on the 'parties' (flower party, white party, space party etc) as these started at 11.30pm. This is in keeping with being a European cruiseline; most things are done later in the evening.
In the evenings, we at in the MDR 4 nights, the Pan Asian specialty dining on 1 night, and the buffet on 2 nights (just due to activities earlier in the day).
I found the food on the while to be good. The buffet was varied and plentiful. It was only very busy in Rome at breakfast time, when lots of people were leaving the ship early for an excursion or to disembark.
The MDR was better than buffet, and I had no complaints at all. Our waiter Suryer was very friendly, and the area supervisor Alex introduced himself to us, and was happy to discuss any issues we had.
The quality of the food was not as good as Celebrity, but we were in Aqua class so no wonder to be honest. In my view, the dining experience in the MDR was perfectly acceptable and we looked forward to heading there each evening.
Anytime Dining does exist, but only for Aurea and above grades of experience. If you don't have anytime dining, then the dining times are 6pm, 8pm, or 10pm.
I did not experience any surly or rude staff that seems to be a repeating theme on some of the negative reviews. In fact, quite the opposite. Many staff made a fuss of my daughter which was very nice.
We did not have a drinks package, and just ordered the drinks we wanted to have here and there. Each day, there was a hour of 2 for 1 cocktails in the Wine and Cocktail lounge (normally 5.30pm to 6.30pm), which was great because our dining time was 6pm.
The Pan Asian specialty restaurant was delicious. We had a 'dinner and bubbles' package which included 3 courses for 2 adults, and a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve champagne for €115. It was a little overpriced on reflection, and I probably would not do it again (the food alone was €39 a person ordering from a set menu).
As for entertainment, the evening shows were amazing! We went to 6 of the shows. It's fair to say that the shows each followed a similar theme of singing, dancing, and circus type acts, but they were all very entertaining and had a large production value. The singers were seriously good too.
We only went to one of the kids club acts, which was junior MasterChef. The kids club area was large but we were off the ship every day so didn't use it a great deal. In addition, there was a limited proportion of English speaking children on the cruise, and the staff have to communicate in 5 languages which can be difficult for a 4 year old to follow. This is no criticism, it's just something that has to be done on a European cruise.
You get used to all public announcements being made 4/5 times (Italian, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese). I would say that English first-language guests account for about 10% of passengers. Fine for me, but if you are a cruiser that likes to strike up conversation with new people then opportunities will be few and far between (unless you can speak other languages of course).
As with anything, there are some things that MSC could/should try and do better.
The kids splash park is great fun, but there is nowhere around that pool for adults to sit to observe their children. This means children are either unaccompanied, or the adults have to go in too. This could be better designed.
Also, the other pools are all 6 feet deep so children cannot use them unless they have floating aids. For a 'family focussed' cruiseline it is not well designed.
There does seem to be a real push for upselling on the cruise, and this can grate at times. There are frequently staff seeking to sell specialty dining, lots of photos (although we still bought 10!) Even a one litre plastic bottle of water in the MDR is €3, which is a con. Drinks are overpriced too.
These are relatively minor criticisms but could be addressed by MSC for a better cruise experience.
Would I cruise with MSC again? Yes, but I would not sail with my child until they are about 10/11, and can appreciate different languages and follow staff going in and out of English. Without child, I would certainly cruise with MSC again.
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