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MSC Seaside is a lovely new ship. In general, the deck layout is not ideal especially if you have to use a stroller. They do not have decks that get you from front to back of ship without having to go up or down a deck or two. I don’t know if it is galley or what but you hit a dead end and then have to go up a deck to continue going forward. Not a good design but this is not the only ship or cruise line where you have that issue. In most areas the elevator and surrounding area is a black shiny wall. It tends to be very dark and lighter colors would be preferable. The elevators apparently are not synchronized in any fashion. Most times you get to a bank of elevators and all four are on the top decks or on the bottom decks. One elevator is reserved for Yacht club which further limits space for others. If you have strollers or wheelchairs it is even worse. On a ship that bills itself for family you would think they would plan for strollers and wheelchairs and walkers and provide extra elevators or at least faster services. Too much wait time everyday and too many full elevators when they finally arrive. Dining room is well laid out with sufficient space for the wait staff to get thru. Not quite as fancy as the formal dining rooms on Royal Caribbean but they do a nice job with white table clothes and all the glassware and silver you need. Service was good. Menus tend to be more limited than on some lines but they offer the “Classics” every night on both the adult and children’s menus. So if you didn’t care for the entrees that nite you could go with Classic Offerings. They were also good about getting French fries for the kids or pasta without sauce so you could just butter it for smaller kids. They were very accommodating and friendly. MSC enforces the dress code for the dining room. They say no tank tops. It should say NO SLEEVELESS shirts. A tank is different from a sleeveless t-shirt. Lots of guys came to the door in a sleeveless T and were told to go change. Cabins were clean but small. For my needs I would have preferred a stack of shelves or drawers instead of a mini bar. The storage space is very limited. The closet doors are designed by the village IDIOT! There are two bypass doors. When you slide them to the right the opening is about 3”. You cannot even reach in to grab shoes from the floor or anything hanging unless it is the end garment. If you slide them to the left you get about an 18” opening and then you can reach in and slide things around and hope that the garment you can reach is the one you want. The area in front of the closet is about 12 inches wide since the bed or the sofa end at that point and what is left is the space to access the closet. Really stupid design. Should be a three-door bypass or some type of collapsing door either to the side or top to bottom. Two shelves and a safe at the right that you can access easily when the doors are to the left. The center drawer in the vanity is the only one drawer in the cabin. It has the hairdryer hard wired inside. The inside of the drawer is black! Makes it very hard to find things in there. It only slides open about half of the length making it a dark hole to try and find whatever you store there and then that needs to be untangled from the hairdryer cord. Very poor design for a new ship. In the quad cabins they have a very innovative design. The sofa pops up to form bunk beds for the kids. That means you don’t have to fold out the sofa bed every night and back in in the morning and you have the same amount of floor space as a cabin without kids. Very nice design. You also have the end of the bunk beds to hang a wet swim suit or to mount a shoe storage bag with pockets to organize other items. Excellent idea. The only suggestion I have is that when they take the sofa cushions off to make a bed – take those big cushions OUT OF THE CABIN and store them for the week. To shove them between the curtain and the end of the bed is stupid. Makes closing the curtains and issue and takes up precious space for suitcase storage. The verandas are standard size. The chairs have a lower back which makes them more comfortable. You don’t have to always sit so straight up. There is enough room to move them around a bit and still use your deck. We had great services in the cabins. If we needed something all we had to do was ask. They kept the cabins clean and supplied. MSC has reduced the crew to passenger ratio and gone to automation for some services. With the Fantastic Experience you get wine, beer and soda included with lunch and dinner. It is a self-serve style service. That allows fewer staff in the buffet area. Nice thought but it is does not work for about 50% of the passengers. We had 12 in our group. Only half of us could use the service. Both the ship card and the ship bracelet did not scan or dispense beverages at the self-serve stations. You had to go hunt down a staff member to get your beverages. Stupid. At a minimum they should have been able to correct the technical issues with each passenger card after the first time it didn’t work. But they do not do that. They just hope you go away and don’t bother them or bother some other staffer. The other automated service is the small electronic device at each bar or that each server carries around to use when ordering a drink. It requires you sign with your finger most of the time. It is the new charging mechanism to replace paper receipts. The stylist is missing or the crew member has it in their pocket and does not provide it for signature. You end up with an illegible mark on the screen that passes for a signature. Very dumb. Good idea if they just had the technology to support the idea. Photo area is small, few display racks and very disorganized. Very small desk to check out. Again, the technology of looking at photos digitally didn’t work for most cards. I do not know who they use for their IT support but they are definitely sub-par for the industry. Photo prices and packages are no where to be found on a placard or on a hand out. If you ask, they say they don’t have a list for prices or packages. I even went to customer service and they had nothing. Very poor. It should be posted. Then I was told it was a buy 5 and get 5 free. Great promotion. You pick out your photos, stand in the mob and wait your turn to check out only to find that you can only get the five free ones for YOUR cabin. You cannot include photos of your family and grandkids from other cabins even if YOU are the one who paid for them! Why would I want 10 photos of my husband and myself??!! A clear posting would help a lot. It would reduce the problems at check out and the ongoing arguments of everyone who was told you can’t have those photos since they are from a different cabin. I heard that argument at least a dozen times while I waited for the second time to purchase photos after I did it “wrong”. Most the wait time was for passengers to have issues explained or to get prices or to try to get a verbal idea of what would constitute a package price. There is no area for you to lay out 2 dozen pictures so that you can compare and chose. We had excellent photographers each formal night. She was good at arranging the groups and made sure that you didn’t have one-person half hidden or the wrong heights next to each other. Good composition and good photos to choose from. Very willing to do couples and different families. We had excellent agents at customer services desk. We should not have had to use those services but at least we did get our issues resolved. We booked well over a year ago. We chose the Fantastic Experience for 4 cabins (12 pax). The Experience was to include 12 drink coupons for each passenger/non-alcoholic for kids; and the wine/beer/soda with lunch and dinner. Last March we read on Cruise Critic that the coupons were being phased out. It would be replaced with wine/beer/soda at lunch and dinner. We already had that in the package we purchased so they were just eliminating a perk we had paid for. When we printed our boarding documents there was an asterisk next to the what is included in your cruise. That asterisk corresponded to a very small print paragraph that mentioned the drink coupons. When we did not receive our coupons at boarding, and they were not in the cabins, I took the paperwork and stood in line. The agent made copies of each boarding document then went in back and produced the coupon booklets. I should not have had to go to that effort. It was part of the deal and it should have been provided without issue. I also wanted to put onboard credit on some cabins. I went to the desk with cash in hand and had it credited to cabins and signed the receipt. Days later it was not posted to the cabin accounts so it was go stand in line and show the receipt to get it posted. The same happened with the onboard credit from my agent. After three days and it did not show on the account I went down and spent about 15 minutes with an agent who finally did find the credit in an “on shore” account that had not been transferred. It is bs in my book. They just hope you don’t make a stink and then they don’t have to pay out, I guess. MSC needs to work on providing staffing and signage for ports of call. They have two gangways and the instructions to get there are poor and the directional stands with arrows placed around the ship are inadequate. I don’t know if pranksters turned the signs to the arrow pointing in the wrong directions or if they truly were clueless as to the way to route people. The number of “arrow signs” and the frequency at “intersections” what wholly inadequate. Staff was absent. You had lines snaking around the ship and up the stairs and then when you came to an elevator bank and the doors opened then 20 people would try to merge into the line at mid-point rather than getting to the back of the line. There were no lines blocking off those points of merge and NO STAFF keeping order. It was totally amateur hour over and over. No excuse for that other than they don’t have sufficient staffing. We also found that the number of European passengers far outnumbered the US passengers and apparently the custom elsewhere is to just shove an push and bully till you get to the head of the line, to the first elevator or to the buffet entrée FIRST. No courtesy no manners. Me First. All The Time! I have no clue where the term “ugly American” comes from after this experience. We are BLACK card which entitled us to priority tender services in Grand Cayman. That worked as intended and it was a blessing as we had an outside excursion booked. They have that one down and they execute it perfectly. They have one guy at the gangway that I think needs to work for TSA. I guess you give the guy a smidge of authority and he has to go wild. I got him twice. He decided my beach bag was TOO BIG for port. He said you cannot take that thru the secured area as it is too large. He looked thru it and saw beach towels, sand toys and snorkels and masks, camera, phone and sunscreen. Nothing to see here. Just didn’t like the size. I asked why wasn’t there some information provided if a specific size was required. He said that the two wheels on the bottom made it “luggage” and not a beach bag. The second time he kept me there about 5 minutes while he tried to call immigration!! What an ass. I saw people with much larger bags in the next line so I don’t know what they guy’s issue was. Just stupid. He finally backed off when he saw I was going to make an issue of it. Neither port had any problem with my bag. Just this jackass. Returning to the ship was a treat. We were greeted with ice cold water and a cold wash clothe to wipe your face. It was heaven. Nice touch MSC. Good idea. Bought a fun pass for the grandkids and they used every point on it. It was hard to use your points when things were not open most of the time. The bowling had about 2 hours of time open per day; zip line only operated 2 days and often the attendant at the race simulator and 3D was off doing something else. Poor staffing again. Waivers were required for the waterslides and they set up a table in the walkway of the waterslides for waivers to be signed. Only 2 guys there and they were always being interrupted for questions by people wanting to know what to do since there were not instructions posted. The slide with the tubes only had about 6 tubs so the line was very long waiting for someone to slide and then turn over a tube. Very poor plan and the slide lines merged into the waiver signing lines. When boarding the ship, younger kids had to get an arm band and they should also have all the waivers signed at that time away from the slide area. Lot less confusion and chaos. Another stupid plan by MSC and they should know better. None of this crowd control and orderly execution of boarding, disembarking etc. is rocket science. We had several great bar tenders and servers. They made up for the jerks at other locations. We had good service and great conversations with them. Too bad the others did not realize that a bit of friendly attention and good service could get you a good amount of extra cash tips. I do not recommend spending the $5.00 for the wrist band. I bought one and every time it did not work they asked for my card. I recommend you buy a lanyard with a plastic pocket to keep your card. Most of the time they ask for the card anyway since the bracelette works about 15% of the time. Save the time and hassel. We still had a great time. The price was very reasonable for the number of passengers we had and the number of ports of call. We scheduled most of our excursions through non-ship providers and we were very happy with the price and services. Once we got off the ship our ports were a great experience. It was the herd mentality disembarking that was always a challenge. MSC will be loosing their American market if they don’t step it up a bit in the service and staffing departments. Perhaps they only want the European market. There is no excuse for the stupid mistakes and the congested areas and lack of workable technology. If they are going to reduce staffing then figure out how to provide the usual services. The rude, belligerent staff we did experience should be fired. They signed up for a customer service job and should be expected to be civil and polite or fired. Most of the complaints we heard from others were similar to our own. Pushing, bullying, rude, shoving etc. Lack of personnel to resolve issues and no instructions or information about a service or a product. All easily solved if they care at all to retain the market. We may sail them again – depends upon the offer. BE sure you check what you get with drink packages if you book one. The Drinks On Us is now Easy Drinks – primarily worthless. $6.00 drinks or less. Which means bottom of the line gin, vodka etc. with coke, soda or tonic. If you order a “real drink” it is $11-$15.00/each with no credit for the $6.00 already paid for in your package. On the $6.00 drink you pay the 15% gratuity each time as well. Pretty much a joke package like the beer/soda/wine with lunch and dinner. Our family enjoyed their time together. We made the most of it and not sorry we did this cruise. We have had better experiences on other lines but we have paid a lot more too. There is a saying, you get what you pay for!

MSC is fine but technology is lacking

MSC Seaside Cruise Review by marymarie

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Fantastica Balcony Stateroom
MSC Seaside is a lovely new ship. In general, the deck layout is not ideal especially if you have to use a stroller. They do not have decks that get you from front to back of ship without having to go up or down a deck or two. I don’t know if it is galley or what but you hit a dead end and then have to go up a deck to continue going forward. Not a good design but this is not the only ship or cruise line where you have that issue.

In most areas the elevator and surrounding area is a black shiny wall. It tends to be very dark and lighter colors would be preferable. The elevators apparently are not synchronized in any fashion. Most times you get to a bank of elevators and all four are on the top decks or on the bottom decks. One elevator is reserved for Yacht club which further limits space for others. If you have strollers or wheelchairs it is even worse. On a ship that bills itself for family you would think they would plan for strollers and wheelchairs and walkers and provide extra elevators or at least faster services. Too much wait time everyday and too many full elevators when they finally arrive.

Dining room is well laid out with sufficient space for the wait staff to get thru. Not quite as fancy as the formal dining rooms on Royal Caribbean but they do a nice job with white table clothes and all the glassware and silver you need. Service was good. Menus tend to be more limited than on some lines but they offer the “Classics” every night on both the adult and children’s menus. So if you didn’t care for the entrees that nite you could go with Classic Offerings. They were also good about getting French fries for the kids or pasta without sauce so you could just butter it for smaller kids. They were very accommodating and friendly.

MSC enforces the dress code for the dining room. They say no tank tops. It should say NO SLEEVELESS shirts. A tank is different from a sleeveless t-shirt. Lots of guys came to the door in a sleeveless T and were told to go change.

Cabins were clean but small. For my needs I would have preferred a stack of shelves or drawers instead of a mini bar. The storage space is very limited. The closet doors are designed by the village IDIOT! There are two bypass doors. When you slide them to the right the opening is about 3”. You cannot even reach in to grab shoes from the floor or anything hanging unless it is the end garment. If you slide them to the left you get about an 18” opening and then you can reach in and slide things around and hope that the garment you can reach is the one you want. The area in front of the closet is about 12 inches wide since the bed or the sofa end at that point and what is left is the space to access the closet. Really stupid design. Should be a three-door bypass or some type of collapsing door either to the side or top to bottom. Two shelves and a safe at the right that you can access easily when the doors are to the left. The center drawer in the vanity is the only one drawer in the cabin. It has the hairdryer hard wired inside. The inside of the drawer is black! Makes it very hard to find things in there. It only slides open about half of the length making it a dark hole to try and find whatever you store there and then that needs to be untangled from the hairdryer cord. Very poor design for a new ship.

In the quad cabins they have a very innovative design. The sofa pops up to form bunk beds for the kids. That means you don’t have to fold out the sofa bed every night and back in in the morning and you have the same amount of floor space as a cabin without kids. Very nice design. You also have the end of the bunk beds to hang a wet swim suit or to mount a shoe storage bag with pockets to organize other items. Excellent idea. The only suggestion I have is that when they take the sofa cushions off to make a bed – take those big cushions OUT OF THE CABIN and store them for the week. To shove them between the curtain and the end of the bed is stupid. Makes closing the curtains and issue and takes up precious space for suitcase storage.

The verandas are standard size. The chairs have a lower back which makes them more comfortable. You don’t have to always sit so straight up. There is enough room to move them around a bit and still use your deck.

We had great services in the cabins. If we needed something all we had to do was ask. They kept the cabins clean and supplied.

MSC has reduced the crew to passenger ratio and gone to automation for some services. With the Fantastic Experience you get wine, beer and soda included with lunch and dinner. It is a self-serve style service. That allows fewer staff in the buffet area. Nice thought but it is does not work for about 50% of the passengers. We had 12 in our group. Only half of us could use the service. Both the ship card and the ship bracelet did not scan or dispense beverages at the self-serve stations. You had to go hunt down a staff member to get your beverages. Stupid. At a minimum they should have been able to correct the technical issues with each passenger card after the first time it didn’t work. But they do not do that. They just hope you go away and don’t bother them or bother some other staffer.

The other automated service is the small electronic device at each bar or that each server carries around to use when ordering a drink. It requires you sign with your finger most of the time. It is the new charging mechanism to replace paper receipts. The stylist is missing or the crew member has it in their pocket and does not provide it for signature. You end up with an illegible mark on the screen that passes for a signature. Very dumb. Good idea if they just had the technology to support the idea.

Photo area is small, few display racks and very disorganized. Very small desk to check out. Again, the technology of looking at photos digitally didn’t work for most cards. I do not know who they use for their IT support but they are definitely sub-par for the industry. Photo prices and packages are no where to be found on a placard or on a hand out. If you ask, they say they don’t have a list for prices or packages. I even went to customer service and they had nothing. Very poor. It should be posted. Then I was told it was a buy 5 and get 5 free. Great promotion. You pick out your photos, stand in the mob and wait your turn to check out only to find that you can only get the five free ones for YOUR cabin. You cannot include photos of your family and grandkids from other cabins even if YOU are the one who paid for them! Why would I want 10 photos of my husband and myself??!! A clear posting would help a lot. It would reduce the problems at check out and the ongoing arguments of everyone who was told you can’t have those photos since they are from a different cabin. I heard that argument at least a dozen times while I waited for the second time to purchase photos after I did it “wrong”. Most the wait time was for passengers to have issues explained or to get prices or to try to get a verbal idea of what would constitute a package price. There is no area for you to lay out 2 dozen pictures so that you can compare and chose.

We had excellent photographers each formal night. She was good at arranging the groups and made sure that you didn’t have one-person half hidden or the wrong heights next to each other. Good composition and good photos to choose from. Very willing to do couples and different families.

We had excellent agents at customer services desk. We should not have had to use those services but at least we did get our issues resolved. We booked well over a year ago. We chose the Fantastic Experience for 4 cabins (12 pax). The Experience was to include 12 drink coupons for each passenger/non-alcoholic for kids; and the wine/beer/soda with lunch and dinner. Last March we read on Cruise Critic that the coupons were being phased out. It would be replaced with wine/beer/soda at lunch and dinner. We already had that in the package we purchased so they were just eliminating a perk we had paid for. When we printed our boarding documents there was an asterisk next to the what is included in your cruise. That asterisk corresponded to a very small print paragraph that mentioned the drink coupons. When we did not receive our coupons at boarding, and they were not in the cabins, I took the paperwork and stood in line. The agent made copies of each boarding document then went in back and produced the coupon booklets. I should not have had to go to that effort. It was part of the deal and it should have been provided without issue. I also wanted to put onboard credit on some cabins. I went to the desk with cash in hand and had it credited to cabins and signed the receipt. Days later it was not posted to the cabin accounts so it was go stand in line and show the receipt to get it posted. The same happened with the onboard credit from my agent. After three days and it did not show on the account I went down and spent about 15 minutes with an agent who finally did find the credit in an “on shore” account that had not been transferred. It is bs in my book. They just hope you don’t make a stink and then they don’t have to pay out, I guess.

MSC needs to work on providing staffing and signage for ports of call. They have two gangways and the instructions to get there are poor and the directional stands with arrows placed around the ship are inadequate. I don’t know if pranksters turned the signs to the arrow pointing in the wrong directions or if they truly were clueless as to the way to route people. The number of “arrow signs” and the frequency at “intersections” what wholly inadequate. Staff was absent. You had lines snaking around the ship and up the stairs and then when you came to an elevator bank and the doors opened then 20 people would try to merge into the line at mid-point rather than getting to the back of the line. There were no lines blocking off those points of merge and NO STAFF keeping order. It was totally amateur hour over and over. No excuse for that other than they don’t have sufficient staffing.

We also found that the number of European passengers far outnumbered the US passengers and apparently the custom elsewhere is to just shove an push and bully till you get to the head of the line, to the first elevator or to the buffet entrée FIRST. No courtesy no manners. Me First. All The Time! I have no clue where the term “ugly American” comes from after this experience.

We are BLACK card which entitled us to priority tender services in Grand Cayman. That worked as intended and it was a blessing as we had an outside excursion booked. They have that one down and they execute it perfectly.

They have one guy at the gangway that I think needs to work for TSA. I guess you give the guy a smidge of authority and he has to go wild. I got him twice. He decided my beach bag was TOO BIG for port. He said you cannot take that thru the secured area as it is too large. He looked thru it and saw beach towels, sand toys and snorkels and masks, camera, phone and sunscreen. Nothing to see here. Just didn’t like the size. I asked why wasn’t there some information provided if a specific size was required. He said that the two wheels on the bottom made it “luggage” and not a beach bag. The second time he kept me there about 5 minutes while he tried to call immigration!! What an ass. I saw people with much larger bags in the next line so I don’t know what they guy’s issue was. Just stupid. He finally backed off when he saw I was going to make an issue of it. Neither port had any problem with my bag. Just this jackass.

Returning to the ship was a treat. We were greeted with ice cold water and a cold wash clothe to wipe your face. It was heaven. Nice touch MSC. Good idea.

Bought a fun pass for the grandkids and they used every point on it. It was hard to use your points when things were not open most of the time. The bowling had about 2 hours of time open per day; zip line only operated 2 days and often the attendant at the race simulator and 3D was off doing something else. Poor staffing again. Waivers were required for the waterslides and they set up a table in the walkway of the waterslides for waivers to be signed. Only 2 guys there and they were always being interrupted for questions by people wanting to know what to do since there were not instructions posted. The slide with the tubes only had about 6 tubs so the line was very long waiting for someone to slide and then turn over a tube. Very poor plan and the slide lines merged into the waiver signing lines.

When boarding the ship, younger kids had to get an arm band and they should also have all the waivers signed at that time away from the slide area. Lot less confusion and chaos. Another stupid plan by MSC and they should know better. None of this crowd control and orderly execution of boarding, disembarking etc. is rocket science.

We had several great bar tenders and servers. They made up for the jerks at other locations. We had good service and great conversations with them. Too bad the others did not realize that a bit of friendly attention and good service could get you a good amount of extra cash tips.

I do not recommend spending the $5.00 for the wrist band. I bought one and every time it did not work they asked for my card. I recommend you buy a lanyard with a plastic pocket to keep your card. Most of the time they ask for the card anyway since the bracelette works about 15% of the time. Save the time and hassel.

We still had a great time. The price was very reasonable for the number of passengers we had and the number of ports of call. We scheduled most of our excursions through non-ship providers and we were very happy with the price and services. Once we got off the ship our ports were a great experience. It was the herd mentality disembarking that was always a challenge.

MSC will be loosing their American market if they don’t step it up a bit in the service and staffing departments. Perhaps they only want the European market. There is no excuse for the stupid mistakes and the congested areas and lack of workable technology. If they are going to reduce staffing then figure out how to provide the usual services. The rude, belligerent staff we did experience should be fired. They signed up for a customer service job and should be expected to be civil and polite or fired. Most of the complaints we heard from others were similar to our own. Pushing, bullying, rude, shoving etc. Lack of personnel to resolve issues and no instructions or information about a service or a product. All easily solved if they care at all to retain the market.

We may sail them again – depends upon the offer. BE sure you check what you get with drink packages if you book one. The Drinks On Us is now Easy Drinks – primarily worthless. $6.00 drinks or less. Which means bottom of the line gin, vodka etc. with coke, soda or tonic. If you order a “real drink” it is $11-$15.00/each with no credit for the $6.00 already paid for in your package. On the $6.00 drink you pay the 15% gratuity each time as well. Pretty much a joke package like the beer/soda/wine with lunch and dinner.

Our family enjoyed their time together. We made the most of it and not sorry we did this cruise. We have had better experiences on other lines but we have paid a lot more too. There is a saying, you get what you pay for!
marymarie’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Fantastica Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B2 12143
Clean, new. Very limited storage. Closet doors are a joke on the passenger. You cannot access half the closet because of the doors and it only has two drawers and no shelves for storage. Vanity drawer has wired hair dryer and is black making it hard to use or to find anything you store there. They need to ditch the mini bar and put in some shelves or drawers. Bathroom and shower were great.
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