This is another one of my part two reviews from our back-to-back Meraviglia sailings in October and November. The first part was a ten day Canadian/New England cruise in a Yacht Club interior cabin beginning October 18th. On this sailing beginning in New York City on October 28th we headed straight towards warmer waters so chose a forward facing Aurea Suite with large balcony. I’ll try to keep this a comprehensive review but it might help to also read my review of the previous sailing. If you’re interested in part one or seeing my other reviews it’s easiest to see them in my profile signature after searching my username in the forum boards section of Cruise Critic. I booked this sailing about 650 days out, when it was first released, in order to get a specific cabin, 12010. Even in the Yacht Club we had a lackluster prior sailing, luckily this cabin made the continuing problems on this leg more bearable. For this sailing we were joined by my son and daughter-in-law who I booked into a mid-ship inside cabin due to their being prone to sea sickness.
As back-to-back passengers we left our suitcases in our previous cabin, they would be taken to our new cabin while we met up with about 40 other back-to-back passengers and all went together through a quick customs process since the ship had to zero out all passengers between sailings. This was the simplest process I’ve yet done. We had other US ports prior to returning to NYC so we had a quick immigration check a couple days earlier while on a sea day. So for the NYC customs they just escorted our group onto the gangway where they counted us and within 15 minutes we were allowed back on the ship, we didn’t even speak to a customs agent. We were issued our new cruise cards that morning while still in the Yacht Club but they did not have the accompanying Aurea wrist bands so my first objective was to get them at guest services before it became a madhouse. I was in communication with my son who was in the terminal and found that check-in was proceeding rapidly and regular passengers were already being called to board. After getting our wrist bands we decided to see about dropping our personal bags in the new cabin. I was a bit surprised to see our suitcases had been dropped off outside the cabin, on all other back-to-back cruises they were always placed inside the new cabin by the person moving them from the prior cabin. Our cabin steward, Mark, was there almost immediately and said it was fine to move our bags into the cabin. By that time my son had boarded and we went to find them and head to lunch. Aurea passengers are allowed to have embarkation day lunch in the Panorama main dining room rather than the only other open option, the buffet.
One major piece of good fortune did happen that also made this sailing more enjoyable. On the prior leg I learned a crewmember friend of ours, the legendary Arthur, was on the Meraviglia. We’ve had five prior MSC sailings with him as either our waiter or head waiter, he is the most meticulous, attentive and entertaining person we’ve ever met on any cruise ship or cruise line. He had spent a couple weeks working in Meraviglia’s Yacht Club dining room but for both our sailings he was working in the Waves main dining room as a head waiter. Waves restaurant on deck five seems to be considered the least appealing of the four main dining rooms, the three on deck six are larger and perhaps a little fancier with Panorama restaurant being considered the nicest and also where Aurea My Choice dining is located. Without hesitation on the first leg I asked Arthur and Mario the assistant maitre d’ in Waves for a table in Arthur’s section for this next sailing, thus giving up the My Choice dining in the Panorama restaurant. We requested and were given a table for six for the late 7:45pm seating in Arthur’s section with waiters he felt we would like. We had two Cruise Critic friends from a prior sailing join my party of four for dinners. After eating several meals in the Panorama main dining room I was even happier with this decision.