I am 29 and my wife is 27 years old. This was our 3rd cruise.
The MSC Seaside is a ship built specifically for the US market. As an American, I figured I would try a ship that was supposedly built for me. The prices were very appealing, ... Read More
I am 29 and my wife is 27 years old. This was our 3rd cruise.
The MSC Seaside is a ship built specifically for the US market. As an American, I figured I would try a ship that was supposedly built for me. The prices were very appealing, as well. I had previously only sailed on Royal Caribbean.
Room: Balcony with Aurea Experience
Overall impression: The MSC Seaside is a beautiful ship. I was proud to be sailing on her whenever we were in port, as she stood out next to all of the other cruise ships. Everything from the cabins, pool decks, theater, and every lounge/bar looked pristine and modern. This ship might be slightly understaffed compared to a Royal Caribbean counterpart, but my wife and I still felt like royalty. Our fellow cruisers on this ship seemed younger and more attractive than our other cruises. It seemed like most were from Europe and many of them did not speak English. Let me just stress the fact that there were A LOT OF GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE ON THIS CRUISE.
**You don't have to buy a wifi package to be able to text on board with iMessage (iPhone). Just connect to the MSC Seaside Wifi Hotspot. This was a nice perk, but we had no idea it worked until we accidentally discovered it. Great on a ship this size to text for free.**
**Main perks of this are room location, Easy Drinks package, free massages, and unlimited access to the thermal area. Also PRIORITY BOARDING worked like a charm. No lines.
**The massages were top notch. Wife and I got a couples room so we could enjoy the massages next to each other.
**The Thermal Area is exquisite. You forget you are on a ship when you are in there. Steam rooms, saunas, a jacuzzi, a SNOW ROOM. You can spend hours in there relaxing. HOWEVER, it did get crowded at times. I wouldn't be surprised if MSC adopted some sort of assigned time system for people to go at designated times to avoid overcrowding in the evenings (seemed most crowded then). In the morning (spa opens at 9am), it was usually pretty empty and you could have free reign over everything there.
**There are 4 complimentary places to eat: 2 buffets (Deck 8 and 16), and 2 restaurants. The buffet on Deck 8 is HUGE and is the main buffet. Most options are the same between the 2 buffets, but Deck 8 had more options when we went. The 2 restaurants, Seashore and Ipanema, reportedly have identical menus. Since we were Aurea and had priority seating, we were told to go to the Seashore restaurant specifically. The buffet was excellent. It was clean, always stocked up, and there was enough variety to entertain the palate. We tried specialty dining at Butcher's Cut and the Asian restaurant. You are given a limited menu and allowed 1 item per section (starter, entree, dessert). Overall, I would say MSC's complimentary food is better than Royal Caribbean's, but Royal Caribbean has the better specialty restaurant experience.
**The buffet is open 20 hours per day, but after 9:30-10pm there is limited food (pizza, burgers, hotdogs, etc), all of which was good. HOWEVER, there were NO FRENCH FRIES. It was just weird since there were always french fries during the day. This is not a huge deal but would have made all the people I hung out with happy for sure. MSC, if you're listening, GIVE US LATE NIGHT FRENCH FRIES PLEASE :)
**There are 3 tiers of drink packages, which is annoying. My Aurea Experience came with the Easy drinks package (lowest tier), but we upgraded to the next level up when we boarded. Easy drinks limits you to items that are $6 or less, which is pretty much nothing. We knew this going in, but here's the kicker: Say you have the Easy Drinks package and want something that costs $6.50. You pay $.50 to make up the difference, right? NOPE. You pay the whole $6.50. So we bought the premium drinks package, limiting us to drinks under $12.00. Guess what, a bunch of drinks are priced at $12.50. We still got pretty much whatever we wanted with the premium package, but the whole drinks system seems a little gimmicky.
**Also, I felt like the bars were understaffed as I sometimes waited 10-15 minutes for drinks. However, the bartenders were very relaxed. Once I went to a given bartender once or twice for drinks, they did not ask for my card. They knew me, which was nice. I never had to sign anything. I just let them scan my bracelet if anything.
**The shows get better as the cruise goes on. It's capped off with Starwalker, the Michael Jackson tribute, which is great entertainment with excellent dancing. The theater and stage look like no expense was spared. I just wish the chairs had cupholders so I could give the performers the applause they deserve!
**There are EXCELLENT dancers. One couple salsa danced so fast it was breathtaking.
**Formula 1 Racing Simulator: Do this if you like cars/racing. Very realistic. See if you can beat my time of 1:02.244 at the Aviano circuit in Italy.
**Bowling, slides, ziplining. You shouldn't ever be bored on this ship.
Once everybody was on board for departure in Miami, there was an announcement made that we would be going to Nassau instead of Ocean Cay for our last stop. Ocean Cay is MSC's private island, and we were supposed to be the first people to visit. The announcement stated that the island isn't ready. All cabins were given $100 onboard credit and 20% off a future cruise. We were a little disappointed to not go to the private island, but I think MSC handled it as best they could.
Day 2 (At Sea): MSC hosted a lovely CruiseCritic Meet & Mingle. They reserved their Seaview Lounge just for us, and they served champagne, cocktails, and small snacks like chocolate dipped strawberries. The captain and other crew were there to chat, as well. My only issue with this was that it was at 10am. I was on my way to the gym and wasn't really in the mood for drinks and mingling. Would have loved for it to be later in the day.
Day 3 (Ocho Rios, Jamaica): It was raining, so we hung out on the ship and claimed prime real estate at the South Beach Pool. This pool is part of what makes MSC Seaside unique. To be in a pool so low to the water gives a different feel than being on the top of the ship where you can't see the water.
Day 4 (Gorgetown, Grand Cayman): It was a hot day once the rain stopped. We decided to walk back to the ship from 7 Mile Beach. We were exhausted when we got back. Our ship's crew was waiting for us at the dock with cold towels for our faces, cold water to drink, and fresh pool towels. They did this at every port, which made us feel like royalty. I believe this was the night of the All White party, as well. A lot of people participated and showed up to dance.
Day 5 (Cozumel): We did the underground cave snorkeling excursion. It's an all-day affair as you take a ferry boat to Playa Del Carmen, then a short van ride to the caves. Pablo and Hugo were great tour guides. Highly recommend doing this activity if you are able to swim and don't have a fear of caves. It's a very unique opportunity to see this kind of ecosystem.
Day 6 (At Sea): Silent Disco was this night. Crew handed out headphones and we all danced. Once again, lots of participation and lots of dancing. This ship was full of people who were willing to party, but the ship is big enough and designed in a way that you might not know there was such a party going on if you did not want to take part.
Day 7 (Nassau): This was added to the itinerary last-minute, and we didn't have much time to spend. Read Less