MSC Seaside Cruise Review by ktcruises11
- Sail Date: June 2019
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Fantastica Inside Stateroom
The ship is absolutely immaculate. It is easy to navigate, super clean, and glamorous. There are TVs all over that have an interactive map, allow you to book shows, and show you daily activities. There are tons of lounge areas and bars, a little something for everyone. We never felt the boat rocking (our room was on the 14th floor).
There are several pools. We actually had the best luck at the jungle pool. We also enjoyed the adults-only South Beach pool. The Miami Beach pool is packed most of the time. My husband and I both with there were more hot tubs, ESPECIALLY in the adults-only pool section. Hot tubs are typically overrun by kids. I also wish they stayed open past 9!
FANTASTICA EXPERIENCE AND ROOM (14th FLOOR INTERIOR)
With the loss of the 12 drink vouchers, Fantastica basically gives you the option of “better” rooms and dining time choice. However, our room location wasn’t anything special and we requested early dining and were assigned a 9:30pm dinner time. Yes, we could have changed that, but who wants to wait 45 minutes in the dining room to change their dinner time when you just arrived? Not us. Unless you REALLY care about your room location.
Speaking of room, we were in interior room 14044. I thought our room was great. It was cleaned twice a day. We utilized some storage hacks (like the over the door hanger and pop-up laundry hanger) and I suggest doing the same. Water pressure was amazing. Splurge for a balcony if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t. Having an interior room makes you get out and explore the ship.
As is pretty typical of cruises, the food was good, not great. I know a lot of people complain about the buffet options, but honestly there are TONS of options, they just don’t change very often. The pizza is AMAZING. I also loved the cinnamon rolls at breakfast. The Marketplace buffet (deck 8) is way bigger than Biscayne Bay (deck 16). Plenty of places to sit; we liked to sit outside and enjoy the view. I wish drink classes were bigger; the cups for water were practically shot glasses haha. I would suggest bringing your own bigger cup.
We only ate in the MDR once. We dressed “smart,” but there was literally a guy in a tank top and hat…so clearly not strict on dress code. The food, again, was good, not great. The couple sat along with us at our table said they also had the fantastica package and requested the early dining time and were also assigned the latest time.
DRINKS ON US
We received this package as part of an Expedia promotion. Be aware: despite what you may have read in this group, this is NOT the “old version of the easy package.” It includes different things. The good part is it includes a wide range of beers (which Easy doesn’t.) My husband was happy about this. But it only includes basic mixed drinks made with well alcohol (vodka soda, rum and coke, etc.) and absolutely nothing blended. If you want blended drinks, you pay full price. You will pay a 15% tax on all drinks (even ones “included” on DOU.) MSC would be smart to just change over everyone’s DOU package to easy to avoid this continuous confusion.
We were blown away by the MSC staff. There are over 2000 staff on board and they all work VERY hard literally all the time. There is never an idle worker. There is a reason the ship is so immaculate. They will go out of their way to help you.
One thing that bothered me is that on several occasions I saw the crew members dressed in the white official looking outfits (I have no idea what their title is) harshly reprimanding staff members for minuscule things. I saw one of them yelling at the poor kid who makes pizzas for 29384 hours a day because he had the tongs in the wrong spot and then at this super adorable, fun kitchen worker who was laughing (along with us) at the birds coming on the boat and trying to take the food. I understand that they are trying to make sure the boat is pristine, but I also don’t support that type of management of people who work incredibly hard, especially in front of guests.
I will say that bar service is very slow. However, this is NOT because the servers/bartenders themselves are slow. They work their butts off! They just need WAY more people working behind the bar. Often times during prime pool hours there were only 1-2 bartenders responsible for all at-bar orders AND orders placed by bar maids. MSC needs to put more bartenders behind the bar. Good news is that their pours were VERY heavy
We booked the experience that included two 30-min massages and week-long passes to the Thermal Area. The massages were nice (my husband had never had one and was VERY skeptical, but he said he would do it again) but not the best I’ve ever had. We visited the Thermal Area 3 times. It was nice, but honestly I probably would have been fine with one day. It was nice to get away from crowds and relax. I loved the steam room with the cold showers. It felt SO refreshing, as did the showers with the “rain storm,” “cold mist,” etc. The snow room was unbearable to me, but neat. The Jacuzzi honestly wasn’t worth it because it was more warm than the hot Jacuzzi experience I was looking for. There is a private deck area with a small hot tub and some sun chairs that only Thermal Area-goers can use, which was really nice. We were always the only ones out there. However, again, for some reason the hot tub out there was also just slightly warm.
I thought, overall, the entertainment was great. There were a couple bands and some solo singers that all sounded great. The only thing I’ll say is that it got kind of repetitive by the end. The entertainment staff who put on the parties and lead the dance classes were AWESOME. You MUST go to the White Party dance party at Miami Beach Pool. They put a cover on the pool and have an awesome party until 1am, and TONS of people go. This was the only theme we dressed up for, and trust me…you want to bring your white outfit! Everyone dressed up.
As far as shows, we went to the R-Rated Beerprov show and Starwalker. We were DYING laughing at Beerprov. We wanted to go to the other shows they put on but it just didn’t work with our schedule. Starwalker was very good as well. I feel very conflicted because, well, I’m not about to be cheering for Michael Jackson after all that has come out, but I just decided to appreciate the music and dancing, which was awesome.
The entertainment staff CLEARLY love their jobs and make sure everyone has a great time.
PORTS OF CALL
Puerto Rico – This is kind of an odd day because it is a basically a sea day combined with a port day. We got in at 5:00 and walked up to a nearby fort. However, all of the forts closed at 6:00, so if you want to see them you better hurry! We walked to dinner and had a pina colada (they were invented in PR, you have to have one!) and then strolled around. Although charming, this was probably our most boring stop.
St. Thomas – We did the Sail and Snokel experience on Castaway Girl 3. We had a great time! We didn’t see many fish and not other aquatic life, but it was fun nonetheless. On the way back you are given rum punch and we leisurely return to the port, just enjoying the ride. After that we went to the Fat Turtle by the port and drank beers and chatted with locals. If you want a beach you will need to take a taxi.
Sint Maarten – Ugh, such a gorgeous port. Leave the shopping area, take a left and keep walking until you reach the sign for the beach. About a 10-15 min walk. Beautiful beach, lots of shops and bars/restaurants. Find a deal for lawn chairs/umbrella. Most about $20 for 2 beach chairs, umbrella, 5 beers OR 2 frozen drinks, and wif. We got that deal sans the alcohol for $10 a ways down the beach. Do be prepared for lots of locals trying to sell hair braiding, massages, bags, etc. Just say no thank you and they will move on. This is a short port day (7am – 1:30pm) so I suggest just making it a beach day.
Nassau – If you want to pick a day to spend on the boat while in port, this is that day. If not, I suggest finding an excursion or riding to another beach. We went to Junkanoo Beach, and….well, it has Junk in the name for a reason. It’s a very rocky beach with lots of glass, at the top of the beach there is lots of trash, and the drinks and food are crazy expensive. We stayed for a short while and just took a dip and then walked to the Twisted Lime for some delicious cold drinks and then went back to the boat and enjoyed some breathing room while others were in port.
As many have mentioned, this is a very diverse boat. Having lived abroad, I loved being immersed among all of the different language and cultures. The ONLY drawback is that many things we consider polite or appropriate behavior is not the case in other countries. Lots of cutting in line, lots of talking/talk-yelling in public areas, and just what seemed to be a general unawareness of anyone besides themselves. This, of course, is not the fault of MSC, but is just a reality to be aware of.
I highly suggest hooking up a CREDIT card to your account. You can easily do this on a kiosk the first or second day there. If you use a credit card, you don’t have to settle your bill at guest services. I can’t even imagine waiting in that line to settle my bill!
I know some people have had charges on their account that were wrong. We didn’t have that happen, BUT we did have on two occasions the bartender pass us their little machine to sign only to see that they were charging us for four drinks instead of two (remember, we had the DOU package so each drink had about a ~90cent service charge added.) When we refused to sign they took it off, but it was still sketchy.
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Speaking of room, we were in interior room 14044. I thought our room was great. It was cleaned twice a day. We utilized some storage hacks (like the over the door hanger and pop-up laundry hanger) and I suggest doing the same. Water pressure was amazing. Splurge for a balcony if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t. Having an interior room makes you get out and explore the ship