The crew is friendly but rather unhelpful, they never clarified any instructions and I was offered a drink maybe once in my several days by the pool. There was no one out taking drink orders and bringing drinks. The food at the formal ... Read More
The crew is friendly but rather unhelpful, they never clarified any instructions and I was offered a drink maybe once in my several days by the pool. There was no one out taking drink orders and bringing drinks. The food at the formal dining was not great, and even upon sitting at the bar my younger sister tried to get the crews attention for over 30 minutes. I’m addition when we made it to our second stop we originally were told we could get off at 11, well going through customs has people still on the boat it’s alrwady 2 o’clock. Originally they also said we didn’t have to be back on the hot until 8, that has also been moved up until 6:30. This is the most unruly cruise I’ve ever been on, people are missing their excursions they paid hundreds of dollars for, and frankly it isn’t even worth it to get off the boat anymore. Simply ridiculous. All of this said, we were looking for a cheaper cruise but I feel even for the price it wasn’t worth it. Read Less
Just off the 5 day Coastal cruise Vancouver to LA. I cruised in the solo studio cabins. I loved the studio cabin and lounge concept. The lounge was perfect for snacks and drinks, especially the specialty coffees. Jose who ran the 5 ... Read More
Just off the 5 day Coastal cruise Vancouver to LA. I cruised in the solo studio cabins. I loved the studio cabin and lounge concept. The lounge was perfect for snacks and drinks, especially the specialty coffees. Jose who ran the 5 o’clock meet ups was an excellent host.
Wasn’t totally impressed with the specialty restaurants, Teppanyaki was my favorite, Cagney’s was ok, and I didn’t think Ocean Blue was worth the additional surcharge. Food Republic, sushi and dumplings were excellent.
Lots of fun activities in the Atrium but be there early to get good seating. Beatlemania performance and the crew show in the theatre were excellent.
Loved the Observation Lounge, no problem every finding a spot to sit, chair hogs did not seem to be an issue. The food stations were excellent, I ate my breakfast and lunch there most days, avoiding the Garden Cafe craziness.
Star crew member, in my opinion, was Jose from Cruise directors staff, with a second to ‘Jackie Chan’.
Disembarkation in Los Angeles went very fast.
The only issue, and it was not a fault of NCL, was getting off the ship and through Customs in San Francisco. Started at about 8:30 and last people got through around 1:15. A lack of custom officers seemed to be the issue. Read Less
Prior to the ship being built , I booked. I followed this vessel for months and read countless posts and reviews-this is unadulterated. I wish I continued on the next 8 day sailing! The embarkation in Vancouver was sketchy-but it was ... Read More
Prior to the ship being built , I booked. I followed this vessel for months and read countless posts and reviews-this is unadulterated. I wish I continued on the next 8 day sailing! The embarkation in Vancouver was sketchy-but it was their first time with the Bliss. From the moment we boarded it was special. Our cabin (13844-balcony mid) was awesome and clean. The Garden Café fantastic-no problems with food or seating as prior reviews stated. Met a great gang at Spice H2O and we gelled (smoking section)...so I missed all other meet and greets. La Cucina was fabulous/Cagneys was good/ Le Bistro awesome...Savor and Taste great...didn't care for the Local.Mario and team at Spice H2O did a great job at bartending and providing exceptional service. Jersey Boys good, ample theatre. The Beatles show awesome! The Casino was also great-wish more machines but they played nicely!!! the waiters and waitresses were phenominal, food exceptional, drinks great, our cabin steward was so so...do the racing experience! I wish they get rid of Margaritaville-it was dead space. Elevators were also fast-not as many reviews stated. What I realized is that you cant please everyone....many passengers would try to cut lines, complain about trivial things, not respect the staff...it is sad. I met many seasoned cruisers who loved this experience for a larger ship I believe I got hung up with many posts and prior reviews but this was exceptional! If staying in Vancouver-Sutton Place is phenominal! Victoria a nice stop, San Francisco was good-did the Hop On Hop Off and not disappointed-only disappointment was the behavior of a few folks who wouldn't disembark for customs and the behavior of the mob to get back on! The only other thing I can say-the karaoke was dull and machine wasn't good....met many nice new friends from all over! Many friendly people! A few that should have stayed home! Read Less
This was really my first cruise.. I had taken a 4 day Carnival cruise and it was crap!
I work in the travel industry so I know quality when I see it..
MY overall experience on NCL was a 9 out of 10.. I will give a brief ... Read More
This was really my first cruise.. I had taken a 4 day Carnival cruise and it was crap!
I work in the travel industry so I know quality when I see it..
MY overall experience on NCL was a 9 out of 10.. I will give a brief breakdown.
Getting on ship was pretty easy.. took about 2 hours from check in. There was nothing to tell you where to drop your bags at all.
THE STAFF and SERVICE. wow! point on.. they were all perfect, in a good mood, helpful always friendly, and remembered you from meeting you once.. wow!.
FOOD was really great tons of options always available.
CABIN attendant. He was always there for you!.. If you tip him/her $20 at beginning of cruise you will always get anything you want..
ENTERTAINMENT.. was good variety, excellent performers. I did like they mingled with guests in bar areas when they were not working. I LOVED THAT!! Read Less
Overall this was a fantastic trip. All of the ports were awesome with embarkation and disembarkation really smooth with the exception of Naples. Getting back onboard was a chore. The ship itself was awesome. I’ve cruised in the ... Read More
Overall this was a fantastic trip. All of the ports were awesome with embarkation and disembarkation really smooth with the exception of Naples. Getting back onboard was a chore. The ship itself was awesome. I’ve cruised in the past and I often found myself with nothing to do, or entertainment that wasn’t entirely entertaining. Not the case with the Epic. The shows were fantastic and the dining options were endless. I traveled with a large group and there were plenty of options for us to get together as a group for dinner or a show. The only thing that wasn’t 100% was the quality of the rooms. The ship is a little bit older and the wear and tear was pretty apparent in some places. There were a few spots throughout where it looked like a quick fix was in place, but it was nothing that would have turned me away from sailing on the Epic, or any Norwegian ship in the future. Read Less
About the Reviewer: I’m a 36-year-old male who sailed with his mother for the first time on MSC Seaside (9/29/18). I’m now a seasoned cruiser with this first MSC cruise being my 45th cruise overall. Over half my cruises have ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 36-year-old male who sailed with his mother for the first time on MSC Seaside (9/29/18). I’m now a seasoned cruiser with this first MSC cruise being my 45th cruise overall. Over half my cruises have been on Norwegian Cruise Line with the remaining being on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and a handful on Carnival. When sailing on a new cruise line, it’s hard not to compare it with past experiences so you may see some comparisons throughout. The review is written in chronological order. I hope you enjoy it!
DAY 1 – Embarkation Day – Miami, FL
It was a simple enough drop off at the newly built Terminal F for MSC Cruises. Porters were outside to greet you and take your luggage. While signs are posted tipping is not required, I usually throw them a buck or two for faster delivery. Upon entry to the terminal, the queue for security was empty and this was at 11:15AM. I was astonished it was so empty as other Carnival cruise ships down the way had lines out the door.
There was no wait at the check-in counter. The pre-registration photo we had uploaded for security wasn’t in their system, so they had to re-take the photo. We were given our cards, explained the procedure of how to link the card when we got on the ship and given a map and welcome aboard brochure. The nice lady also gave us the black boarding card pass. We were status matched as I’m Platinum Plus on NCL to Black Card status on MSC.
When they called black card members to board the ship, we did so and were one of the first across the gangway. Upon entering the ship, we found the kiosk right away to link the credit cards and took care of that first. It was a simple process if you’re accustomed to using a POS device in a retail store. Just follow the instructions on the screen and there’s many languages to choose from to walk you through it. There are several devices around the atrium area on Deck 5 and on Deck 6 as you enter the ship.
Afterward, since the ship was still so empty we decided to go to the Ipanema restaurant and see about getting the assigned time changed. We were given a 7:15PM dining time. This was too late for mom, so we asked to be switched to the 5:15PM seating. We were told we could show up by 5:30PM when it was switched and did so for the cruise. We were assigned a two-seater for both dining times. This worked out well. I still prefer the flexible dining on NCL versus the assigned times and while MSC offers it under the Aurea experience, I don’t want or need any of the other stuff in the Aurea experience to pay that kind of money for it.
It was off to lunch in the Marketplace Buffet on Deck 8 aft. This expansive buffet has a salad station to the right and a pizza station to the left to greet you. A fresh fruit station is by itself on the right as you enter. The buffet wraps around the kitchen and features a Mediterranean station, Ethnic station (largely featuring Spanish and Mexican dishes along with Stir Fry and rice for the Asian market). I was impressed with the selection of items all the way around. We sat outside under the overhang for the suites above and looked down at the Deck 7 aft pool. While eating lunch I loaded the MSC for Me app and booked all our shows for the week. It was fairly quick and simple to do. If you don’t have a smart phone, just utilize your stateroom TV or the TVs on the walls at the elevators to book your shows.
Ship Tour and Thoughts: We strolled the ship afterward and I was impressed with her size and layout. Unlike the Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships on NCL, the Seaside doesn’t have a lot of choke points. She has a great flow to her. The main atrium is expansive and always alive with energy. On embarkation day they had a DJ playing there and the music was AWESOME!! I was very excited to see the rest of the ship. It’s modern décor with a lot of white, off-white and greys. Different venues help to change out the color scheme and while shiny metal is abundant, it’s not done in a tacky way like you’d find on a Carnival ship. My favorite venue besides the atrium was the Garage Club. It’s based on a 70s drive in and the bar is quite long, the DJ booth is an actual car you can get into and out of using the driver’s side door. The décor also included a jukebox and old soda fountain-type seats. My mom loved the décor in this room too. She even managed to get herself for a picture on the scooter they have by the aft entrance.
The chocolate bar was tucked away but when we found it, I could see what other cruisers were raving about. The walls just rain chocolate! The amount of chocolate in there would give the best chocolate lover a tummy ache! Be sure to catch this gem on Deck 6 midship. It also serves chocolate as well as non-chocolate coffee drinks. If the atrium bar (Seaside Bar) is backed up, head up one deck and grab your drink there.
The best feature my mom enjoyed was the Waterfront Boardwalk. Unlike NCLs boardwalk which is tight, and you can’t walk past people too easily on it, the Seaside’s is expansive and wide open. The added feature of walking on the Infinity Bridge which sticks out over the side of the ship on the port and starboard side is also nice. In the aft part, you can sit on the boardwalk as part of the buffet dining experience. It’s not for an upcharge or fee like it is on NCL. Plus, there’s plenty of seating for guests along the boardwalk, something NCL has never done correctly. MSC really took this concept to the next level and did a GREAT job with it! For interior cabins, this is a perfect place to connect to the ocean and get some shade too if you don’t want to sun on the pool deck.
The pool deck is expansive and while they do have a very large kids play area, it doesn’t occupy the entire main pool area like it does on the NCL Breakaway class. This is another big thing MSC did right on the ship design. The Miami Pool is the main pool and it’s aft. There is so much seating around this pool and just aft of it by the Bridge of Sighs. If you want a more secluded feel and not as much sun, the Jungle Pool with its interesting décor is more midship. I was really impressed with the pool deck layout on this ship.
Stateroom 12147 – Fantastica Balcony
At 2PM it was announced the rooms were ready. Our balcony room was situated on the port side about midway between the aft and forward elevators. The room itself had a huge seating area and couch with the beds by the balcony door. The balcony was large! NCL has shrunk the balconies to the size of a postage stamp. These were quite roomy and I’m tall. I could sit facing the ocean and not have my knees in the glass where the railing was unlike on NCLs new builds. The room had plenty of counter space and the sofa could be used as well for staging some items, mostly backpack storage and to put the pillows on that weren’t being used. The bathroom sink was quite interestingly designed as it comes to a point where the drain is in more of a deeper contour than on any ship I’ve sailed on. However, this quirky sink actually turned out to be the best sink I’ve used on a ship when it came to cleaning out my water canteen used ashore. It fit perfectly! There was ample storage with two shelves and the sink shelf itself. The toilet was in an awkward place where at my height I needed to sit sideways on it. The shower was spacious enough but the automatically closing door on it was annoying sometimes. My only big drawback to the room was the amount of storage in the closet. You had three shelves which were fairly deep and two drawers. The rest of the closet was for hanging items. I brought hangars with me but the room only had about 10 hangars total supplied in it. For any future ships based in America, MSC might want to consider re-designing their closets. Tip for guests, bring your own lightweight wire hangars and to hang your own stuff. Otherwise, the rest of the room was fantastic and spacious!
My luggage was already in the hallway by the crew door when we went to the room. After looking at the room, I went down the hallway and grabbed it and delivered it to the room myself. MSC does state it can take up to 7PM on the first day for the luggage to be delivered. I had unpacked and stowed the luggage underneath the bed but mom’s luggage didn’t come before muster drill.
Our muster station was in the casino. The early birds got the seats and the late comers had to stand. They repeatedly announced people to get to the muster stations as they scan your card to show attendance. It was another real time technology item which this ship had a lot of.
After the muster drill had ended we circled back to the room and her luggage was finally on a trolley in the crew stairwell. I pointed to it from the hallway and the worker delivered it to the room. It was a brief unpacking before heading up to the cast-off party on deck.
ENTERTAINMENT: Welcome Aboard Dance Party with Cruise Staff
This was the Seaside’s version of a sailaway party. The ship doesn’t leave Miami until 7PM so they have the party just before the dinner service starts. We went up to the Miami Pool on Deck 16 aft by the large TV and hung out. There was no one up there. I don’t know where people were, but they weren’t there for the party. Two cruise staff members came over to try and get us out on the dance floor to dance but instead chatted with us when we said there was no way we were going to do it! Wang from China and Johnathan from New Jersey both introduced themselves and told us a bit about how the entertainment would flow for the week. I asked about how the White Party was and both assured me it was THE party of the cruise if I loved electronic dance music. We stayed at the party for 25 minutes before hurrying off to the first seating dinner. They brought the flags through and the Doremi children’s characters out.
DINING: IPANEMA RESTAURANT
Our table 685 was on the starboard side along the walkway to the kitchen. Our head server was Ian and his assistant’s name began with a R. Ian greeted us and welcomed us to the Ipanema Restaurant. He presented us with the menus and upon inspection, minus a few extra pasta dishes… they were like NCL’s main dining room fare. I was very surprised with this and wondered if the food quality would be the same. I ordered the spring rolls and it was nearly identical to the ones on NCL. Mom asked for a special request which couldn’t be accommodated since they had to order it from provisioning below decks, but it was accommodated every night thereafter. Service tonight ran a little long. It was weird to have them turn on the lights so bright to get people out but they did at 6:45PM when we didn’t have our dessert yet. The first day is always chaotic for both crew and passengers alike. It was the longest dinning time we experienced of the whole cruise.
After dinner it was back to the room just in time to watch the ship sail off from the channel in Miami. We made it back to our balcony to wave to the folks on the port side at the restaurant located along the jetty. We stayed out on the balcony until the pilot disembarked and then headed for the evening’s show at 8PM.
ENTERTAINMENT: Frank Forever – Production Cast
MSC really knows how to produce shows. The amazing talents of the male vocalists sounded spot on with tunes from Frank Sinatra. What wowed me even more was the costuming. The backdrops were done by LED projection to save space but MSC used it all with the costuming for their productions. Tonight’s kick off with Frank Sinatra tunes had me excited to see what was to come.
After the show we returned to the room and then things kind of fell apart again, we couldn’t get through to room service. It was the first day, so I was sure things were busy for them. We had tried before the show to get them unsuccessfully and earlier in the afternoon before the party. Finally, I thought it would be good to go down to Guest Services to see if they could get them. When I told them what I wanted, a pitcher of ice water, I was sent to my restaurant Ipanema. The lovely restaurant manager there named Daniela helped me out by repeatedly trying room service until she got them. She told them I needed a pitcher of ice water delivered. I went back to the room with hopes it would arrive. What happened next was not to be expected. First, we had a bottle of water delivered. We already had one in our mini-bar so we didn’t need another. The pitcher was all that was needed. The second time we had an ice bucket filled with warm water delivered. The third time it came with ice in the ice bucket with water. The fourth time was when the room service had changed shifts and someone there figured out to use a coffee urn or hot water urn to deliver the water. This went on for about a hour. Looking back, it was hilariously funny for the different interpretations but in the moment it was really annoying. The lady who delivered the correct item at the end agreed to setup a nightly delivery. I was very thankful for her to do that. Sadly, I never got her name. She did deliver it the next two nights and then suddenly it stopped. When we called, they were aware of the order and sent it up but we could get through and that shift knew what we were talking about.
DAY 2 – SEA DAY
We had placed the card outside the room for the in-room breakfast from room service. A time was chosen and they were early but I was already awake. Mom prefers to have a leisurely breakfast on the balcony which is why I chose the Fantastica experience when I booked. I didn’t need the drink vouchers and she didn’t drink that much regularly so I knew she would have difficulty in using them all. Anyway, the room service order arrived but the order was wrong. Soy milk which the ship had wasn’t there and whatever the juice was that was delivered, it wasn’t straight orange juice. It was some sort of orange juice mixed concoction. MSC’s room service wasn’t leaving a good taste in my mom’s mouth and was starting to dampen her experience. The buffet was four decks down so I offered to go down here and try and rectify the issues. She declined.
I went up to the pool deck in the morning to grab some sun and read. We were on the sunrise side of the ship but I wanted to check out the vibe at the main pool and more importantly see if there were any deck chairs available. There were a lot of people up there but there were plenty of deck chairs available for 9:30AM. On most North American lines, the chair hogs are out in full force. On MSC there weren’t nearly as many. I think the diverse international crowd helped to stop it from happening. The pool deck had activities going on all morning long. Cruise staff and the fitness instructors were getting people engaged. They were doing a much better job and working harder than I’ve seen any other cruise staff in recent memory. Meanwhile mom went for her walk around the ship to get her exercise in while I was getting sun. She said she was impressed with boardwalk and how easy it was to walk it compared to the Breakaway-class NCL ships.
Mom and I went to lunch at the Seashore Restaurant on Deck 5. When I went to enter the dining room, a lady stopped me and told me I couldn’t enter because I had a muscle shirt on (sleeveless but not a tank top). She told me I wouldn’t be allowed in. As I went to figure out what to change into and head back to the room, a lady walked past me wearing a string top from the pool deck and could be seated! I wasn’t too happy. When I came back with the t-shirt, the lady thanked me for changing and promptly sat us by the window. When I went in, there was a guy with a tank top on. After having jogged up 7 flights of stairs to change in a hurry, I wasn’t too happy about it. I didn’t see any dress code requirements in the daily newsletter in the room either. The lunch service was leisurely, and the food served was good.
After lunch I stopped by guest services again, this time I was asking to see if I could talk to Yannis – the Seaside Hotel Director. In the morning, I happened to watch the navigation channel and it had the pictures of the senior officers displayed. When I saw Yannis face pop up, I instantly recognized him. I sailed with him a few times on NCL. He was very personable and I wanted to congratulate him. The guest services representative asked me tersely why I wanted to speak to him. When I told him I knew him from NCL, he persisted and asked me if something was wrong and I told him things were fine… well not room service. He took it that I was going to complain to Yannis about the room service and stated that he would send him an email to get in touch with me. I later learned the guest services person never sent the email.
I went back to the room and changed to head back out to the pool deck and we had our shore excursion tickets delivered. A difference is they don’t deliver the pre-purchased shore excursion tickets until the first sea day along with the folks who did the first day purchases on their TVs. It’s a difference from all the other cruise lines so one worth noting so you don’t end up queueing on day 1 for no reason. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the pool deck until it was time to freshen up for dinner. Wang spotted me and tried to get me to do the men’s water polo. It was 4:15PM and told him I couldn’t due to timing. He was having a hard time getting people to get involved but he was trying as were the rest of the cruise staff. The pool area was crowded too but loungers were still available! I was amazed!
Dinner tonight was in Ipanema. Mom’s special request was delivered, although in a huge quantity. Sergio Texeira, section supervisor, came over to get the order quantity right and he made a note. He saw to it and delivered it every night personally. He did outstanding service on the cruise. The menu for the night was pretty good. Food presentation and taste were good too.
After dinner we decided to check out the atrium a bit and see what was going on. It was just after 7PM and the place was bustling with activity. The captain was out taking photos and there was a queue. We just went to see what was going on and observe the action on all decks. We met a nice couple there and saw them later on. The ship was just alive with music in every venue. We strolled around before heading back to the room and off to the show.
ENTERTAINMENT: The Dream – Production
If I thought the first show of the cruise was fantastic, this one was phenomenal. The incredible cast had specialty acts intertwined with vocals so good they would send shivers down your spine. How two guys can balance themselves like they did was just jaw dropping. There were just so many specialty acts within this production that you left not noticing it was shorter than the average cruise ship production but just do darn good! Don’t miss any shows on this ship! MSC knows entertainment!
Tonight’s Theme was Gatsby. Some cruisers really got into the spirt of things and dressed in appropriate period clothing. The cruise staff gave away prizes for the best dressed as well. There was a Gatsby party in the Haven Lounge on Deck 7. While waiting for the Gatsby festivities to start, we watched the Love Game Show. It was entertaining and helped pass the time while waiting for the Gatsby party to begin. After the party was over, mom went to bed and I stayed up to experience the Garage nightclub. The music was good. Outside on the Deck 7 aft pool they had the Brazilian night and Brazilian music playing. It was well attended.
DAY 3 – SEA DAY
Today we decided to give room service a break and went to the dining room for breakfast instead. The service was great. The food was exactly what was ordered. We sat next to a nice couple from Miami who we would see all over the cruise ship for the rest of the cruise. Daniela, the restaurant manager, came over to ask us how things were, and we told her the story of what happened with room service. She couldn’t believe they would do that and said there must have been a language issue. She apologized for it.
I went up to grab some sun for the day and mom went for her ship walk. I was still surprised at the number of deck chairs available! Mom and I met for lunch in the buffet. The buffet selection seemed about the same as the first day minus the carving stations.
After lunch, I went to check out the gym to see if I wanted to do a workout as it appeared cloudy and possibility of rain outside. When I entered the gym, the trainer asked to see our cruise cards. He had me wondering if I had gone into the spa instead. He presented us with forms for a waiver for using the gym. I just wanted to look around. He made sure mom didn’t use any equipment as she didn’t sign the waiver. I signed the waiver. I decided to return afterward in proper gym clothing to use the equipment. When I did, I noticed everything was in kilograms not pounds. Take the weight and times it by 2.2 for your pound measurement. I also had to hunt for towels and was completely baffled by the lack of them. The trainer saw my confusion and asked if I wanted one and he handed me one. They also had the sanitizing spray at the counter to clean the equipment. All the wipe dispensers were empty. It made me wonder how clean the gym was. The shower area didn’t have any towels either. When I asked the trainer, he said to bring the beach towels and use that. How silly! There were plenty of towel storage areas built into its gym and shower area but not stocked. He said it was because people were stealing the towels. If this is the case, they should setup a specific towel station by the spa to change them out. If the trainer is busy, no one is available to hand the towels out and they’re not bath towels either. I never went back to the gym after this. I just continued cardio throughout the ship by taking the stairs to most floors and walking the Boardwalk at other times.
I went back to the room to freshen up and get ready to split myself into three pieces. The Cruise Critic gathering was scheduled for 5PM in the Haven Lounge as there were over 140 people signed up for it. However, the schedule also had the first and only solos, LGBTQ and 20-40 somethings meet and greets at the SAME time! I went to the Cruise Critic gathering first and finally got to meet Yannis Kazalis, the Hotel Director and congratulate him on his promotion and movement to MSC. I told him I wanted to sit down and talk with him and catch up but because of scheduling, could we do another time. He happily obliged and gave me his handy phone number on his business card. I sat down for a brief minute and then took off to the LGBTQ meet up at the Seaview lounge. I never made it to the singles event before I had to go to dinner at 5:30PM. I talked to Yannis about the timing of these events and why they were on day 3 of the cruise versus day 1 and explained to him about why it’s important for solo cruisers to be able to make connections the first day of the cruise so they don’t dine alone if they don’t want to. I explained how NCL’s solo program works and suggested something similar be implemented on Seaside to help those guests. I also said the LGBTQ meet up didn’t need to be hosted either but suggested it also be held the first day for cruisers to connect.
ENTERTAINMENT: The Wizard – Production Show
The female vocalist stole the show in this production. The costumes of this Broadway style show were just astounding to look at. The specialty acts built into the show were also daring and breathtaking just the same. I can’t even begin to tell you how truly amazing the Seaside shows are. Don’t miss any of them!
It was country western theme night and I passed on it. I was waiting for the silent disco to open so I went up to the Miami Pool and watched a Celine Dion video of her tour. It was good but long and I left to go to the silent disco at the aft pool on Deck 7. The headset channels 1 and 2 were latin based and the third channel was stuck in the oldies genre. When I checked out the headset I had to scan my keycard and to scan it back in. When I went into the garage club, DJ Tony was playing the EDM music I liked so I stayed in there for a bit before heading to bed.
DAY 4 – ST MAARTEN
We decided to give room service another go today and again the orange juice was the other concoction. I gave up trying to get it and mom’s cereal order wasn’t right either. We dined leisurely as the ship tied up in St. Maarten on the balcony. I went ashore briefly to look around in the port shops and went back on the ship. Make sure you take off your baseball cap for scanning before entering the ship. They don’t want you to wear it through the metal detector, it must go through the xray. This was something new to me and unique to MSC.
MSC EXCURSION: ST BARTHS ON YOUR OWN
Our tour departure time was 10AM. When we got to the theater, it was us and one other tour that was left to get off the ship. We went ashore and to the water taxi platform where Dutch immigration authorities were waiting to inspect our passport before we boarded the taxi. When we arrived in St. Barths, the immigration officials stamped our passport for entry. We arrived to St. Barths around 11:15ish. Most of the shops in town were in the process of closing for their lunch period by the time we found the souvenir ones. If you wanted to take an island tour, the taxi operator would charge a flat fee of $120 for a full taxi. It was up to the guests to figure out who was going to go with whom. People had taken all the spots with good leg room and being tall, I couldn’t and wouldn’t sit in the middle seat. We opted to do the walking tour we had from a Caribbean tour book instead. Others went to the beach in another taxi. When we started walking around we discovered everything was closed including museums, shops and the information center. At a place we stopped at for lunch, the lady told us the season doesn’t pick up until October when there’s more ships in town and when the hurricane season is over. She said a lot of shop keepers take their vacations during this time or have limited morning hours. She was right about this. The major museum was under renovation as it had been damaged by the hurricanes from the prior year. The other museum in town was also just closed for the day when we got to it. Had we known about the lunch break the islanders take, we would’ve reconsidered doing this tour. I wouldn’t recommend this tour if you’re a history buff or want to see anything outside of an island tour or go to the beach. Shell beach is within a good walk from the ferry terminal. We didn’t get back to the ferry dock in St. Maarten until 5PM and back on the ship until dinner time.
On the way to the room, I stopped off as I climbed the stairs and told Sergio we wouldn’t be able to make it as we had just boarded the ship from a tour. He said no problem and to have someone come down to the dining room to obtain the special request. We went to the buffet after watching the sunset and the ship cast off. Initially the worker stated she couldn’t accommodate the request and wouldn’t find Sergio. When pressed she got her supervisor who sent another worker down to Ipanema. We ate dinner and Sergio came up and delivered the request in hand, finding us in the buffet! What excellent customer service!
ENTERTAIMENT: MY LIFE IN MUSIC – Production
Tonight’s show was by far the best production of the cruise for me. While I didn’t always understand or recognize some of the Italian favorites being sung, the female vocalist did an outstanding job once again. The show closer, Time to Say Goodbye from Andrea Bocelli was done perfectly by all the vocalists both male and female. I was so moved I shed a tear. I thought I might have been exhausted but it really was good. I was one of the first to give the production cast a standing ovation. I was exhausted so I did turn in early and didn’t stay up for tonight’s 70s themed disco party.
DAY 5 – SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
I slept so well that I was awake for the embarkation of the pilot on our side when we approached entrance to San Juan. I opened the curtains and dazed in and out of sleep as we rounded the fort into San Juan. We were the first ship to come in. I saw two more on the horizon as we went around. Room service arrived and the order was wrong again. I made it a point to find time to call Yannis and follow up to setup a meeting time with him on the sea day.
We disembarked and headed for the Starbucks. I needed a matcha powder fix badly. Hint hint MSC, get a green tea latte or any type of tea latte going on your ships. I’d buy it for sure! The only latte available on the ship was a coffee based one.
At Starbucks there was a map of old San Juan. We ordered and looked at the map and decided to go for a walk. I said we hadn’t been to the museum of San Juan history that was on the map so we went for a walk there. The museum was larger than I thought and quite helpful. Some of it was in English but all of it was in Spanish too. If you know some words you can figure out what the signs say. The museum does close at noon for one-hour lunch. On the way back, we passed a maritime museum on San Francisco street. While it is not as extensive as the other museum, if you like nautical history, you should check it out as it has a collection of items which are unique and intriguing for the small admission price.
We headed back down to the ship just as the clouds in the distance looked threatening. We did some photos in front of the ship and got on just as the Harmony was pulling out. The three separate gangways the ship had helped to speed up getting guests back on the ship from port. The mid ship gangway didn’t have any stairs so it was perfect for my mom to use. People with handicap difficulties were encouraged to use that one while others were instructed to go to the back one which had stairs up to Deck 5 entrance by Guest Services.
Tonight, we dined in Ipanema restaurant with Ian checking in on us and knowing my double meat order. The portions are a bit small on the Seaside and I knew that going in so I just asked for more food. I didn’t want to double up on desserts, so I did on the entrée.
ENTERTAINMENT: Timeless – Production
Another incredible show featuring specialized artistic performances and song numbers by the cast. The stage design was great too. The usage of props in this show was good too. Unfortunately for some strange reason they fogged the entire room heavily causing me to go into a coughing fit and lose my voice. The show itself was great but one suggestion is tone down the fog effect.
ENTERTAINMENT: WHITE PARTY
This is a signature event on NCL and on MSC, it’s pretty much the same. It’s a big party under the stars where liquor is flowing, line dance songs are playing, conga lines are forming, and people are just staying out late having a good time. The party kicked off with a DJ set in the atrium and a small show by the cruise staff before heading upstairs to the pool. The party was off to a typical start with the line dance songs lasting longer than NCL and then it flipped to EDM format. It was good until the party stopped and everyone was sent to the garage club on Deck 7. It was hideously packed and hot in there. The doors were propped open but the body heat was just too intense to stay in there. I ended up strolling the ship with some new cruise friends. It was also easier to order drinks from bars away from the main venues as the bartenders were overwhelmed.
DAY 6: AT SEA
It was a leisurely morning at sea with room service once again delivering the wrong cereal and orange juice product. I was left scratching my head on this one. I don’t know how they can’t figure out what dispenser they’re taking the juice from. We walked around the ship a bit until the Mega Day Sales event in the gift shop. Mom wanted to get there early for selection and as expected, the place was full of people. It didn’t help they were raffling off some prizes so more people walking through stayed around. When it opened it was a crazy free for all with pushing and shoving. Goodness me, I can’t stand shopping as it is but this was just crazy! Thankfully I provided protection for mom so she didn’t get pushed and shoved.
Today I also got to sit down with Yannis, the Hotel Director and talk. We got caught up and talked shop and how I ended up on MSC after so many cruises with NCL. He wanted feedback on how the cruise was going and what needed improvement too. I told him about the room service being the weak point for my mother this trip and it was really starting to make her mad. The daily mess ups for something we had to pay extra for (Fantastica is needed for room service as Bella doesn’t have it and that’s base fare pricing). He took down notes and asked why I didn’t call him earlier. I always feel bad calling, especially when you’re responsible for 80 percent of the crew on the ship! I also told him about moving the gatherings around or at least not having all three at the same time (Cruise Critic, LGBTQ and Solos / Singles). When I explained why the latter two should be on the first sea day, he could see the sense in it. Americans are about connections and wanting connections. For solo travelers and single travelers, they want to meet and especially want to find dinner buddies (if they want) so they don’t sit alone at dinner. I cruise solo frequently and the worst part of it is dining alone at dinner. People stare at you and it makes you feel uncomfortable. I’m happy to see a change will be implemented for this. I told him about the white party and it being longer up on deck as the garage club can’t hold a crowd that size, especially with a sea day the next day and more people wanting to party. Yannis took copious notes based on my feedback. I hope it helps enhance future guest’s experience on the ship – especially for the 20-40 somethings solo/single folks and the LGBTQ audience. It was great to sit down and catch up as well. Yannis is just what the Seaside needs to polish itself up in the American market.
ENTERTAINMENT: FLY – Production
This production truly meant to fly around the world in song and dance. The costumes were elaborate. The performers from Africa finally made their presence known in a truly astounding act of tricks ranging from stacking themselves up to the ceiling and then collapsing much to the gasps of the crowd. The talent this entire cast is downright amazing and something I’ve never seen at sea. It was a short 35 minute production but action packed. If you blinked you could miss something!
ENTERTAINMENT: QUEST GAME SHOW
If you’ve seen the Quest Game show on other cruise lines, this is MSC’s take on it. While the end of the quest game show is the same, there’s two parts of the show… the first section is where you run up with the item they’re seeking and who does it the fastest gets the most points. The second part is well… more amusing depending on your take of it. I won’t spoil it but go anyway and have a good time.
I floated around the ship with the Beattles tribute in the atrium while waiting for the garage club to open. The aft pool deck was playing Latin music. I chilled in the garage club but largely sat in there alone for one hour sipping a drink. A few folks came in ordered drinks and left. Finally, I just walked around the ship once more to find something going on and went back to bed. It was a quiet night.
DAY 7: NASSAU, BAHAMAS
Eureka! Room service arrived and it was 100 percent correct! I’m beyond thankful for this. It saved a rough start to the day with mom. We pulled straight in to the pier today. On a last minute whim, mom and I booked a shore excursion the prior night with a 15% off discount offer.
MSC EXCURSION: Glass Bottom Boat
This excursion got us off the ship at 9AM and on a ship headed for the reef. On the way out to the reef, the tour guide told us about all the houses we were passing on Paradise Island and who they belonged to from the likes of Chuck Norris to Oprah Winfrey to singers. When we arrived at the reef we headed downstairs to the viewing area and saw lots of fish. The reef itself was nice and there were smaller fish hanging out in the more intricate areas of the reef. The guide told us what the fish were. We stayed there for about 20 minutes before making our way back to the ship. When we came back to the pier we had to dock on the other side of the ships and by the straw market. For the price paid, it was a decent short tour.
Where the boat disembarked us by the straw market meant we were getting swarmed with vendors trying to sell things from handicrafts to weed. I’ve been to Nassau many times before and if it wasn’t for my mom wanting to try this excursion, I wouldn’t have gotten off the ship. Ok, well maybe to go to Starbucks which I did do but after that I would’ve gotten back on and relaxed. We walked around a bit until I finally had enough and told mom I wasn’t leaving her out there alone as I don’t trust Bahamians. Nassau is full of violence from muggings, pickpocketing to murders. Always be on your guard in Nassau and never do any unlicensed taxis or tours for your own safety. We returned to the ship for lunch.
I went up on deck and caught some sun for a bit. Wang finally roped me into playing a game show game up at the Miami Pool. I only agreed to it because there was only a handful of people sunning up there. The ship was leaving and people were in other places watching it. The musical game was fun but I couldn’t get any of the tempos I was hearing as quite a few were Latin based. The two I knew someone else ran over to do. I did win the prize for best dancer in merengue. I’m clueless as to how I did that!
It was the farewell dinner in Ipanema with Ian, his assistant and Sergio. It was a great last dinner service. I wish I could’ve brought them home! Ha! After dinner ended it was time to listen to some smooth electro in the atrium for a small bit. I loved the music in the atrium. The beats were always good there.
ENTERTAINMENT: PETER PUNK – Production
If you’re thinking it sound like Peter Pan, it’s because it is! It’s an adventure featuring pirates, a dinosaur, the tumbling troupe, the balancing boys, the hoola hoop guy and many more. It was an elaborate production and my second favorite out of all of them. This is not to mean that any show was bad because they were all outstanding.
I finished packing and put the bags out and went to check out the pirate party in the Haven Lounge. A lot of people turned in early so the pirate party was more of getting caught up and saying goodbye to some friends made along the way including some cruise staff.
DAY 8 – MIAMI, FL – DISEMBARKATION
MSC likes to start things a bit too early. The ship was docked early and disembarkation started at 7AM with the express walk offs. I don’t know who went that early but clearly folks did. We were to go at 8:15AM. All guests were to be out of their rooms by 7:45AM which was the earliest I’ve ever been out of a room. With a too leisurely breakfast in the dining room, we didn’t make it and just headed for the gangway when we finally did get out of the room at 8AM. Our luggage tag had already been called and getting off the ship was super easy. The uber to the airport was immediate and I had really kicked myself for not booking the Noon flight. I didn’t want to rush mom but MSC did that for me!
Conclusion: The entertainment on this cruise was unparalleled by any North American cruise line. I was in awe of the performances I saw. I give a shout out to the talented cast who perform the shows THREE times a night and don’t miss a beat! The ship itself is impressively designed and passenger to space ratio is good. You don’t feel the crowd even though the sailing had some 4600 guests. The crowd was about 50 percent international and 50 percent American. The international mix made the ship exciting albeit somewhat challenging to communicate with other folks. MSC is doing their best to cater to both markets on the ship and I can tell the effort is there. Service everywhere outside of room service and the two guest services staff members was amazing. When the shift lead at Guest Services helped us on the last day, we got the change we needed for tipping and tipping envelopes with a smile and promptly. I wish I had dealt with that gentleman the previous two times!
These members of the ship’s crew and staff are to be commended for their excellence in customer service: Ian (Waiter) and his assistant waiter who remembered my mom’s wine order by the third night and served it without us asking. Sergio Texeira for handling a special request every night and going above and beyond to see it through. Daniela for handling the room service issue for me the first night of the voyage and being a friendly face around the restaurant. Marie Leonnel, our stateroom stewardess from Madagascar, who cleaned our room with both speed and efficiency and kept everything well stocked including the ice. Her attention to detail is to be commended. Wang and Johnathan on the cruise staff who did their best to get me engaged and for being friendly faces about the ship. A big thank you to Yannis for taking the time to sit down with an old friend and for hearing my feedback. Hopefully some of it will be instituted on upcoming sailings. If any NCL cruisers out there are reading this, Yannis Kazalis is now with MSC on the Seaside!
In the end, I will return to MSC. I’m not sure I will do the Fantastica experience again unless mom sails with me. I would be content with the Bella service. Having to pay so much more for the Aurea experience to have anytime dining is not worth it for me. In that sense, NCL still wins for flexibility of dining but NCL needs to watch out… MSC is right on their heels with this beautiful ship. Just a little bit more polishing of the crew in some areas and they’ll kick NCL to the curb. I look forward to trying the Seaside again as a solo traveler and perhaps other ships as their itineraries are far more interesting in some regions of the world! Read Less
Other NCL ships are run by staff that is in the hospitality business. The Getaway is run by administrators and supervisors. There is no consideration or attempt at being gracious hosts.
There is absolutely nothing offered to a ... Read More
Other NCL ships are run by staff that is in the hospitality business. The Getaway is run by administrators and supervisors. There is no consideration or attempt at being gracious hosts.
There is absolutely nothing offered to a Platinum member other than the "standards" left in the cabin upon arrival.
The Latitudes party was for every single level all mashed together outside in the heat. No receiving line. Short introduction of officers and then they could not get away fast enough. Not a party. Not even a real reception.
The food was the worst ever and the buffet had countless problems. Big language/understanding problems with the staff. Staff person making Greek salads tried to tell me that there was no cheese on a Greek Salad. The word feta was impossible to communicate. Cobb salad the next day I just looked and shook my head. No blue cheese (cheddar instead!) no bacon and no avocado.
I have owned two hot tubs. My cruise was to be a spa retreat. I had to point out two separate days that the water in the spa pool was not treated properly. Any sort of thermal pool should not have excess foam. That is a sign that water is not treated properly. I lost three days of spa relaxation until they got the water clean.
Any point/suggestion made to an officer was merely taken in. On two occasions there was personnel stationed outside the dining room trying to move people up to the buffet rather than enjoy the dining room.
There is smoking in more places than I have ever seen on a ship. The Sunset bar is ruined by smoking directly next to the seats on the bar. In the very middle of the pool deck there are a few glass walls and smoking is allowed right there. Up in Spice H20 the bar side is given to smokers. All this on top of the stink in the casino.
I will never sail on this ship again and am giving serious consideration to leaving NCL. Read Less
I booked with several friends from Houston, Tx., in fact, eight in all. I joined in with the solo cruisers and met some very nice fun people to eat with, hang out and dance with, and attend shows with. The entertainment was awesome and I ... Read More
I booked with several friends from Houston, Tx., in fact, eight in all. I joined in with the solo cruisers and met some very nice fun people to eat with, hang out and dance with, and attend shows with. The entertainment was awesome and I can't remember ever having as much fun as with this cruise. The personnel were remarkably friendly and eager to serve.
My only regret was that it had to end.
The ship was well maintained and the food was good. Lots of choices in the Main Dining Rooms as well as in the buffet area. The bars offered a variety of music and drinks and the personnel that led the game shows were amazing dancers and friendly while teaching the guests to dance.
In spite of rainy weather and having to skip one port the extra day at sea was fun. I would not hesitate to sail on Norwegian again. In fact, I can hardly wait for my next adventure. Read Less
This was my first cruise with NCL and I quite enjoyed it. FYI, I didn’t choose this for the ship but for the itinerary so I didn’t care so much about the onboard experience.
I arrived in Venice two days before ... Read More
This was my first cruise with NCL and I quite enjoyed it. FYI, I didn’t choose this for the ship but for the itinerary so I didn’t care so much about the onboard experience.
I arrived in Venice two days before departure and was quite happy I did so. I had a great hotel in a residential section of Venice and spent the days exploring. I recommend doing this.
I arrived at the port around 11:45am and was on the ship by 12:30. It went very smoothly and quick. Notice: they did take everyone’s passport upon embarkation no matter what nationality. They were given back after leaving Greece.
I was in an inside, mid ship cabin on deck 10. I requested the bed to be split which gave me a lot more room to move around. The cabin was very nice and clean and the bed much more comfortable than I expected it to be. And the USB ports were fantastic for charging.
I don’t drink alcohol and I refuse to spend money on speciality dining so I ate primarily at the Main Dining rooms. Aqua was quite nice however I found the tables too close to each other. Versailles was much better laid out although the service was a bit slower. The food itself at the dining rooms was great. Hot and delicious. I did eat at the buffet a few times for breakfast and lunch and it was good as well. Just a madhouse with the number of people.
I went to a couple of the shows which sucked. Too loud, too sexist, just not good.
I do not participate and since this cruise was so port intensive, I really wasn’t on the ship much.
This was a very nice ship. Clean and upgraded. More quiet areas would have been nice. But the refurb was done really well.
The service was great. No complaints.
Ports and Shore Excursions
The ports were amazing and the shore excursions with NCL were very good. No complaints at all. Read Less
This cruise was chosen as way to see the more rural side of Vietnam and Cambodia and did not disappoint. In fact it went way beyond our expectations. The itinerary is new with many small villages visited, often being transported by local ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as way to see the more rural side of Vietnam and Cambodia and did not disappoint. In fact it went way beyond our expectations. The itinerary is new with many small villages visited, often being transported by local tuk tuk, ox cart or horse cart.The excursions are varied and well run, with a lot of local content , including making pots, basket weaving, cooking pancakes and planting trees. My highlight was one of our 2 school visits and sitting with a 12 year old student, in his open air classroom helping with his lessons.
The amenities and space on board were truly amazing. Our cruise was about half full but even if is was at capacity you would never feel crowded. There is space and quiet when needed and a wonderful cocktail hour to mix with others.
We dined with everyone on board at at various times during the week and the dining experience was always exceptional. The meals were varied with a lot of local dishes to try and beautifully presented.
Lastly, the crew went above and beyond to ensure our safety and the enjoyment of all on board. Be ready for the crew/guest dance on the last night!
I genuinely recommend this cruise and can’t wait to try another adventure with Pandaw. Read Less