MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review by OliversTravels
- Sail Date: January 2020
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Yacht Club Deluxe Suite
There were five people in our group, two seniors, two adults and one 8-year-old. We arrived at the YC tent right at 10:30 am. and were in the YC boarding lounge by 11. There was a bit of a delay with disembarkation that day so we didn’t get on board until about 12:30.
Meraviglia is huge and gorgeous. The galleria is absolutely beautiful and nice to stroll through - we loved watching the ceiling change colors/patterns. The board game/library area was nice and bright and it was great to be able to borrow and play some board games. We only swam in the YC pool but the other pools looked nice too. We planned to try the water slides but never made it there. The ship was easier to navigate than Seaside and Divina.
We loved that the Top Sail lounge was separate from the YC restaurant - the lounge/restaurant combo was my least favorite thing about the Seaside. The lounge had a great bar, small food area and lots of comfy seats and banquettes. Alex, one of the YC bartenders, was super nice, made great drinks, and put on little magic shows for us.
The YC pool deck was really nice. The pool was a good size and there seemed to be enough loungers for everyone. A lot of people have seemed concerned about the glass above the deck not allowing enough sunlight but depending on where the sun was in the sky, there was always a good mix of direct sunlight and shady areas to sit. The glass really helped block the wind which made sitting on the deck possible on even the super windy days at sea. My one complaint is that there is only one hot tub so Seaside gets the edge in that category.
We were in rooms 14015 and 15014 (both YC1 Deluxe Suites). The rooms were spacious and comfortable. At first glance it looks as though there isn’t much storage space but between the cupboards, drawers and shelves we had more than enough room for all of our things. The balconies on Meraviglia seem to be as wide as balconies on Seaside but aren’t as deep,p. However, we had all five of us out there several times and there was enough room to enjoy the view without being crowded. The mini bar was stocked with juices, beer, mini liquor bottles, Coke, Sprite, Fanta etc., plus nuts and Pringles. It was restocked daily. The first night we left a note to let them know which items we didn’t need so they stocked it with only the ones we wanted after that. There was also ample water and sparkling water daily.
Our butler, Roman, and junior butler, Jay, were both really friendly and helpful, as were all of the butlers and YC crew we encountered. Everyone seemed to pitch in and bend over backwards to give guests the best possible experience. We didn’t really need any concierge services so our interactions there were fairly limited, but both of the concierges were really friendly whenever we passed by.
The YC Director, Giorgio, was out and about and interacting with guests much more than any other YC Director on our previous cruises. He would often go from table-to-table chatting with guests to ask how they were enjoying their cruise. I couldn’t even tell you who our previous YC Directors were but this guy was out there daily, visible, approachable and accessible.
Dining - with a vegan focus
Three members of our group are vegan, and we’ve struggled in the past to find dining staff who understand what we can and can’t eat. MSC as a whole has made great strides menu-wise with offering daily vegan menu options but a lot of the waitstaff still don’t get it. Luckily, the YC restaurant maitre’d, Luis, and head waiter, Arthur (who we met previously on Seaside), not only understood but also went out of their way to make sure our dining experience was positive. From reading labels, to concocting beautiful salads to go with our main courses (on days where the menu salads had meat, eggs or dairy in them), to bringing out a chef at the start of the week to talk to us to see what we liked, and making us some amazing off-menu curries (in addition to the options available on the menu), we were definitely spoiled in the YC restaurant. Some of the things we ate were, stir fries, tofu, phyllo with tofu and vegetables, falafel platter, samosas, spring rolls, salads, veg and bean curries, bean soups and stews. We typically ate breakfast at the pool deck and could eat the potatoes, oatmeal, cereal (request soy milk from a server), fruit, cream of wheat, toast and grilled veggies. In the YC dining room they also have baked beans and hash browns available. On the pool deck at lunch, we could request veggie burgers (but this was because the maitre’d arranged to have them available up there for us).
We also ordered pizza delivery once (it was really good, even with no cheese) and only visited the buffet once. The buffet has an ethnic section that usually has something vegan.
My biggest issue is with desserts (or lack thereof). Every night (but one) we could only have lemon, mango or raspberry sorbet. Or fruit. But, one night there was tapioca made with coconut milk on the menu! If they could add in more stuff like that, we would be extra happy.
My second dining issue was that, outside of Luis and Arthur, a lot of servers still just don’t “get” special dietary needs. I hope that MSC continues to build on the plant-based menu options as well as product/menu knowledge for staff members. Our meals were delicious and more creative than on previous cruises and we weren’t lacking in protein. Each time we’ve cruised with MSC they’ve taken steps in the right direction and the company seems to understand the importance of continually evolving their menu to suit various dietary needs.
We went to a few of the shows. The theatre was really nice and you could see really well, even from the YC rows at the back. The magician was amazing and it was our favorite show. The Love one wasn’t something we would normally go to, but the opera singers were talented. The broadway show was fantastic. Even though the shows are a little different than on other cruise lines, the beautiful costumes, production value and talent are always amazing and make it worthwhile to see even if it’s not music or themes you might typically go to. We also went to the Cirque de Soleil Viaggio show. The theatre was unique and the perfect venue for the show. I thought that there would be a little more acrobatics but it was still fun to watch.
Costa Maya - we just did some shopping around the little village and then spent the rest of the day at the YC pool
Belize - we booked a city tour through the ship on a little open air trolley thing. First half was kind of boring along the water but then we went into the downtown area with lots of historic buildings. It was a nice short tour (1.5 hours) so we had the rest of the day to wander around the shops and hang out on board.
Roatan - we booked a private tour from Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth hangout. We chose the option to have a tour, visit with the animals and snorkeling. We contacted them ahead of time and were able to pay $10 extra per person to have our own driver for the day. We met our guide, Ann, just outside the port gates and she drove us to the Monkey and Sloth hangout and told us a little about the island on our way there. It was pouring rain when we got there, but there’s a shelter above the animal enclosures so we stayed dry. The animals were adorable. We had lots of time to cuddle one of the sloths (bucket list item, check!) and then spent time in with the monkeys and parrots. Our guide for the animal tour, Michael, knew a lot about the animals, answered our bazillion questions and helped take some pics for us. Next we went snorkeling, the boat is right there at the same location. We lucked out with being the only group there at that time and had the whole boat to ourselves. Our snorkeling guide Alex took us out for a long time (probably over an hour) and showed us urchins, conch, lobsters and lots of fish. After snorkeling, Ann drove us to West End and we stopped for a quick lunch at Sundowner’s Beach Bar. It’s in a great location with fantastic views - but FYI it’s cash only if you go there. Then we headed back to the port to shop and get back on board.
Ocean Cay - we had a lot of windy days and it seemed probable that we wouldn’t make it to Ocean Cay. Woke up pleasantly surprised Saturday morning to see that we were pulling in to dock there. The island is gorgeous and so beyond expectations. If it looks this great already, I can only imagine how beautiful it will be once the final construction phase is completed and the trees have matured. We took the golf cart to the YC area and spent the day there. The whole YC area was lovely. There were lots of loungers but they could use a few more umbrellas. Ocean House was really nice too. The color of the water was spectacular and we swam and played in the water for hours. It’s a little rocky in a few spots in the water so bring water shoes if your feet are sensitive. The Ocean Cay shops were also great. They had lots of OC themed items and it was all nice, quality stuff.
Cons: the only issue we had was that our neighbor was smoking repeatedly on his balcony for the first few days. We couldn’t tell at first where it was coming from, but once we did, the staff took care of it quickly and our neighbor then scowled at us each time he left his room with his pack of cigarettes to go smoke in a designated area.
Disembarkation: we had time for breakfast in the restaurant, then a butler took us down to the gangway when we were ready to leave. We did a combo of carrying off our luggage and putting some of it out the night before. The line up for the escalator to get down to the luggage pick up was really long. But once we were down there, the customs line/process moved fairly quickly.
This was the best cruise we’ve ever been on. The ship was the perfect combo of all of our favorite things from Divina and Seaside. I’m not sure if it was the passengers in YC (other than scowling smoking guy) or the crew, but everyone just seemed to be happy and there was a really great vibe the whole time. All of the staff members seemed to get along and work well together and the mood in general was light and positive. We were definitely skeptical about the cruise going in (and were so disappointed that our original 10-day Divina was canceled) but couldn’t have been happier in the end. We loved Meraviglia so much that we’ve already booked again for next year.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
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