I will preface my comments with some background. This cruise was our 15th. Until recently, we selected cruises based on cost but now that we are both retired, itinerary and season are weighed. Our favorite ship so far is the MSC Poesia. ... Read More
I will preface my comments with some background. This cruise was our 15th. Until recently, we selected cruises based on cost but now that we are both retired, itinerary and season are weighed. Our favorite ship so far is the MSC Poesia. Our favorite cruise destination is a toss up between Alaska and the Baltic.
Our family tent camped for decades so we are used to adjustments and getting by with what we have. We enjoy cruising because it takes us to many places we may never get to and because there is a great feeling of adventure on the open sea. We have sailed MSC once before, once on NCL and 6 times on both Carnival and HAL.
This cruise was the inaugural sailing of MSC Seaside, originally scheduled from Venice to Miami but later changed to Trieste to Miami. The expectation of this new style ship was alluring. There was a great following of its construction on Cruise Critic and constant updates over the past year. Captain Scala posted videos online and we were so excited to be a part of this adventure.
Now to the review! We arrived in Venice for 2 nights as planned. When MSC announced the port change to Trieste, they also announced plans to bus passengers from Venice to Trieste on the day of sailing. We arrived at the Venice port at noon along with 1,000 others. Buses departed every 30 minutes for the 2 hour ride to Trieste.
We had to wait in line for over an hour to board a bus. Upon arrival, only 2 buses at a time were able to release passengers, so we had to wait 40 minutes to get off and go through embarkation.
While embarkation was quick and easy, we later found out that we were not given any drink vouchers that were included with our Fantastica experience. Also, there was another person included on our account whom we did not know. All this was discovered when on board and in our cabin. We went to the front desk, waited for 30 minutes and were told the unknown person would be removed from our account. By the second day, the person was still not removed we found there were charges on our account the first day that were not ours. We returned to the front desk that evening (11pm) and had to wait 2 hours in line to get all this resolved. There was no apology only a comment regarding their system issues.
MSC has kiosks were passengers register their credit card for on board charges. This must be done within 48 hours. We did it on the first day. It was very quick and easy and we thought we were all set until we got a letter stating that we had to repeat the process because of a system problem. We tried to re-register the card but it didn't work. After another 30 minutes in line at the desk, we were assured everything was in order and our card would be billed at the end of the cruise. No explanation of why this happened and no apology.
This became the theme of the cruise - if there is a problem, it is due to system failure or it is was our fault. MSC accepted no responsibility and provided no resolution unless the problem was tangible, like water dripping from the ceiling of our cabin. Oh, yeah!
We were assigned to interior cabin 13065, Fantastica. For us, this was a great cabin! During the Cabin Crawl, everyone was impressed with the size of our cabin. All the cabins along the side of the ship are quite narrow. Ours was wide. It measured about 13 ft x 14 ft or 182 sf. We had ample room to move around beside the bed and more than enough room to access the bathroom. Our only complaint was the location of the TV which made it awkward for 2 people to watch TV unless both were laying in bed.
At 5:30 am on day 3, I woke up to the sound of water dripping from the ceiling over the TV and onto the desk where all our papers, phones and cameras were sitting. Fortunately, the electronic devices were only splashed but all the papers were soaked. I grabbed a towel to soak up the water on the desk and carpet and then called the front desk to inform them of water leaking in our cabin. His comment was, "Are you sure it's water leaking?" Yes, I'm sure! And then he said, "We are in the process of docking at port. When someone from Engineering is available, we'll send them to investigate."
About 5 minutes later, there was a knock on our door. A hotel manager asked about the water leak, took a look at it and called someone. Then the room steward showed up, and a few minutes later, 4 men in overalls with ladders and tools began tearing apart the ceiling panels. We had to vacate our cabin for 4 hours. And once again, no apology from anyone, no note to say the problem was fixed, no explanation - nothing! We were not expecting an upgrade or anything like that but a simple phone call, note, or personal comment from management stating their sincere regrets for the situation would have been appreciated.
Our Main Dining Room experiences turned into a daily highlight. We requested early dining but were assigned late dining. Our cruise card and cabin account stated we had Anytime Dining. Late dining is scheduled to begin at 8 pm.
We arrived 5 minutes early and joined the line, however, the service for early dining took so long to complete that the doors were not opened until 8:30 pm. This happened the first two nights.
When we requested decaf coffee at the end of our meal, we were told decaf is not available unless we pay for it. That was not acceptable to anyone at our table or the next one and we complained to the head waiter, Pasquale. He explained that he could give us instant decaf but that brewed decaf would not be available in the MDR until after the ship docks in Miami. Again, we objected. Pasquale then said he could not do anything about it that night but he assured us that we would have decaf the next night.
The next day, our request for early dining was accepted and we were given a new table and a 6 pm start time. That’s how we found out about the slow service causing the delayed start for the late dining. Our table must have been the last one to order, get served and get dessert because we were among the last folks out of the dining room at 8:15 pm.
We were served decaf coffee though! However, we discovered that Pasquale was no longer on duty in the MDR. When we asked about him, we were told that he was reassigned to the Marketplace Buffet on deck 8 because, and I quote: “he was too fat to get between the tables” of the MDR! Unbelievable! We think he was reassigned because he spoke up for us. When we tried to find him in the buffet, we were told he was reassigned to the crew’s mess.
Dining time was reduced by about 5 minutes each night until it reached 1 hour and 35 minutes.
So, that's the way it went for the whole trip. Enough already! Let's talk about the ship!
This is the first ship I have been on where I felt like a second class passenger! There is a definite distinction between the “have’s” and “have not’s”. Yacht Club is the way to go if you want a deluxe experience. Can't afford YC? Then pay for the Aurea Spa to get the next best thing. Don't feel like paying extra? Then you will get less.
Deck seating on this ship is not plentiful. This sailing was 2/3 full, so 1,800 people less than capacity. We did find seating but not in ideal locations. All the available deck space at the front of the ship on decks 8 and 18 are reserved for “first class” passengers who paid extra. And you will be reminded of it if you forget. Besides the large signs, there are “guards” posing as towel clerks stationed at the entrances to check your status.
The zip line is free. Woo-hoo! If you ever wanted to try zip lining, here is your chance! If you have ever been zip lining, then this one won’t provide any excitement for you. It’s basically a slow ride over the pool but it is worth doing it once or twice. There was never a line on our sailing.
There are 4 water slides - 2 are free and 2 are not. The free ones are okay. Even though the slides go over the sides of the ship, you cannot see or tell that from in the slide. It was not a thrill ride. However, the other 2 slides did look exciting because they combine the water slide with an electronic video game. I’m not into gaming but for the younger folks, this looks like something you want to do, especially if your parents are paying for it.
Deck 7 aft swimming pool is adults only. It is 6’5” deep all around. Not many were using the pool.
What was MSC thinking when they designed the deck 17 mid-ship Jungle pool? The chlorinated water and low ceiling makes it feel like the pool at the YMCA. The only place there is sunshine is directly over the water in the pool. This pool was used by families but not sunbathers.
WiFi on board was poor in our cabin. The server connection constantly failed. MSC for Me has good features but without a connection, it’s useless.
Theater shows were repetitive and I can only give a “thumbs up” to the few shows that did not involve opera!!! Way too much opera from singers who are diva wanna be’s. We quit going after the second music only show. IMO, the shows were pretty lame. MSC scheduled 3 shows per night. Some were not well attended, which makes it hard on the performers to give their best.
Just writing this review is depressing me. There is a saying that “there is no such thing as a bad cruise.” After this cruise, I still agree with that saying because we did enjoy nearly all the ports of call, our cabin, Irina, who greeted us each evening in the MDR and so many of the Cruise Critic members we met on board. Overall, the cruise itself was good. I wish MSC all the best. I don’t think MSC learned anything from the previous bad experience in the USA market with the Poseia. And as Pasquale found out, lessons learned on the Divina are not going to be tolerated on the Seaside. Maybe MSC will prove me wrong. We have a cruise booked on Divina for March 2018 as she returns to sailings in Europe.
Messina - Godfather Tour was excellent. Beautiful sights in Sicily.
Mallorca - HOHO recommended but maybe take the city bus into town to catch it rather than at the port. We had to wait an hour. City bus line is long but there is a bus every 5-10 minutes.
Barcelona - Gaudi anything!
Cadiz - Went to Seville for the day
Funchal - Private tour into the mountains. Awesome!
Tenerife - Why did we stop here?
Days at sea - Great weather! Sunshine and upper 70's every day!
Antigua - Nelson Dockyard by local bus #17. Only $2.50 pp one way.
San Juan - Our 5th time. Lots of stores closed for remodeling.
Miami - Embarkation issue caused 2 hour delay. Read Less