This was our 3rd MSC cruise (28th overall for me, 29th overall for my husband) - we'd previously sailed on Seaside and Meraviglia (the latter in Yacht Club).
Travel to Embarkation Port
Our cabin was 14082 (Category BA - Deluxe Balcony) Aurea Experience. We booked with free perks: Free drinks (Easy Plus package - Drinks up to $9), Wifi (Browse - 2 devices but apparently this was only on my booking which we didn’t realize until we were onboard), $100 OBC.
Cabin décor & size - Pretty similar to what we had with Seaside and Meraviglia - modern with neutral colors
Cabin location & proximity to ship features - Our cabin was on starboard side of deck 14 forward by forward elevators. Very convenient to get up to deck 16 for Marketplace buffet and deck 19 with the Aurea exclusive Top 19 sun deck and bar.
Cabin features which were very similar to Seaside:
- King bed by the balcony sliding door - bedding was good though a duvet instead of a top sheet. Mattress was a little firmer than I like. Two sets of soft & firmer pillows. We could have tried out the pillow menu to see what else they offered but didn’t.
- Sitting area with sofa
- Closet with limited hanging space (had to ask for extra hangers), 5 open shelves (one of which has the safe), and 2 drawers.
- Bathroom features - glass shower which is pretty cramped, small vanity area with only 2 shelves. If you are tall, you have to sit somewhat sidewise on the toilet. No Kleenex provided.
- 3 built in hooks on wall.
- Desk/mirror unit with locked minibar, 3 wall mounted open shelves, 2 built in open shelves on either side of the desk, 3 drawers for storage, center drawer with attached hairdryer, and 2 nested stools that slide under desk. Plugs - 2 US, 2 International, 2 USB.
- Nightstand on each side has 2 open bins but only right side had a USB plug. Reading and bedside lights mounted on wall for each side.
- Large flat screen TV but channel selection was limited and no free video on demand.
- Approx. 183 ft2 with a balcony that is approx. 54 - 97 ft2
- Balcony has 2 chairs and small table.
Cabin steward was Roland.
Private tour excursion: Cozumel Food Tour by Cozumel Chef 11am-2pm $80pp.
Aranza “Erin” was our tour guide. Tour had one other couple from the Nieuw Amsterdam. We had a dedicated van with driver to take us around to the various stops. You definitely get out of the tourist areas and into places where the locals live, eat, and shop. We had 5 stops where we had cochinita pibil taco, breaded or grilled garlic shrimp taco, sopa de lima (traditional Yucatecan soup), full fried snapper and grouper ceviche, and a bakery item of our choice (I had a coconut empenada and my husband had a ham & cheese puff pastry). We had a choice of beverage at every stop - various agua fresca flavors, horchata, beer, or soda. Our tour guide also took us to El Mercado to see where fresh fish, meat, produce along with chiles/spices are sold to the locals. Everything was very delicious, Erin was a very knowledgeable tour guide, and it was great to see the non-tourist side of the Cozumel food scene. It was super convenient to walk to the MEGA shopping/grocery center tour meeting point since we were docked in Punta Langosta.
At 9:30am, Captain made announcement that overnight we had a software technical issue impacting one of the engines causing reduced speed. Therefore our port call times were changed to 2:30pm-7pm. Tenders did not start operating until 3:00pm. We did not leave port until 8pm.
We got on the first priority tender (we got priority due to our Gold loyalty level) at 3pm. Did the Explore Cayman app’s George Town Walking Tour, which included spending about an hour at the National Museum.
1st Visit - 1/16 7am-9pm
Excursion: Ocean Cay Lighthouse Climb – 165 steps $9pp (if purchased in advance otherwise $12.95) Met at Lighthouse Bar at 10:45am. There was a group of 10 of us and a guide took us up. There are two intermediate platforms you stop at before reaching the top, so you definitely have rest breaks. The guide gave some background on how the island was turned into its current state and some trivia (notably it’s the tallest lighthouse in the Bahamas). Great views of course - well worth doing.
Lunch - Seakers Island BBQ. Variety of cold salads, fresh fruit, burgers, hot dogs/sausages, French fries, jerk chicken, fish escabeche, red beans & rice, and assorted sweets including rum cake.
Hung out at South Beach for the afternoon. Water was too chilly for us - it was only a high of 70 degrees but sun and blue sky so enjoyable to relax on the beach.
2nd Visit - 1/21 2pm-8pm
Enjoyed Lighthouse Beach on this visit to Ocean Cay. Air and water temps were warmer than Monday’s call.
Snacks - Dessert buffet on Ocean Cay - this was unexpected as all the food outlets on the island were closed since we arrived after lunch.
MSC has really done an amazing job developing this island. It's a top tier amongst all the cruise line private islands.