Overall I had a great cruise on MSC Seaside and I was glad I was finally able to try this cruise line. They have some issues that need to be ironed out mostly in the areas of service and operations, but the ship is absolutely beautiful and there's a lot to do (and eat). I will add that I was invited on this cruise by MSC, but my opinions in this review are all my own. :)
5 out of 5
When we got into the terminal there were lots of groups to be called ahead of ours, but they went surprisingly quickly and we were onboard within maybe 20-30 minutes.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Overall the food was delicious, especially the pizza and pasta - the latter of which could be found in many varieties both in the buffet and main dining room. I thought the buffet had a nice range of choices, some of which changed each day and some of which stayed mostly the same. The desserts in the buffet didn't blow me away, but the desserts in the main dining room were awesome - I don't think I had anything I didn't love. Dinners in the main dining room were great also, I thought it was a good mix of things I'd easily find at home and then more interesting dishes that were fun to try. The hot chocolates and chocolate coffee drinks at Venchi were to DIE for, I wish I had a Venchi in my house lol! I also got a chocolate martini which was one of the best cocktails I've ever had in my life. As for bars around the ship, drinks were always good but service could be very slow at times. I'll mention that more in the service section.
We also ate at Asian Market Kitchen one night and that was great. The food was good and the restaurant is absolutely beautiful.
4 out of 5
I think that Seaside has a great variety of things to do on the ship. My favorite activities were the big tube waterslide, the interactive theater in the game area (I did 3/4 of the films and they were all very immersive!), swimming in the south beach pool, and the zip line. Although the zip line could have been faster (in my opinion), it was still really neat to soar over the pool deck. There were also a lot of scheduled activities every day, like crafting, bingo, events on the pool deck, live music, etc.
5 out of 5
Evening shows in the theater were amazing, best I've ever seen at sea and among the best I've ever seen anywhere. You have the singers and dancers, but there are so many other performers throughout the shows with unique talents, too. There was an aerial hoop acrobat, a hula hooper, former basketball players-turned-gymnasts who blew us away, contortionists, a magician.. I could go on. Several of those uniquely talented individuals were sprinkled throughout each show every night, so we got to see them throughout the cruise and they wowed us every time. This is the type of entertainment people want to see on a cruise, and MSC Seaside beyond delivered it. Our cruise director was hilarious, too.
There's an improv group on the ship called BeerProv, and they were really good. They did a lot of short improv games, some of which involved volunteers from the audience which made it interesting. They did a family-friendly show in early evening, and then an adults-only one late at night. This is what the ship has as their "comedy" shows. I wouldn't say they're the best improv group out there, but they were very, very good and guests seemed to enjoy them and keep going back throughout the cruise.
Didn't have kids traveling with me, but from what I could tell they have a well-rounded kids program. They have their own areas, but also did some fun family activities on the pool deck, too.
Service and Staff
2 out of 5
Crew members overall were very nice and friendly, so I'm not giving this rating based on attitudes or anything like that. However, there do seem to be some operations/logistical issues on this ship. Service was often slow in lots of areas, whether it be the main dining room, bars, or both Venchi locations. One sea day at the gelato Venchi spot in the South Beach pool area, it was lunchtime and only one crew member was working. It took him ten minutes to even take my order because he was working alone and had other orders to make first. Also - all crew members speak English, but many of them don't speak it well and it's very hard to understand what they're saying/explain to them what you're trying to say. Our cabin steward was great, he got us everything we asked for and was very friendly.
5 out of 5
I think the ship was designed very well and it's an absolutely beautiful vessel. Since it's so big it was quite confusing to make my way around for the first couple of days, but afterwards it became easier and we caught on. I especially love the design of the atrium, I think the edges feel much more open than on some other ships and I loved how big the atrium bar was at the bottom and the platforms for the DJ/dancers going up the center wall. As for cleanliness, for the most part the ship was very clean and I didn't notice much that stood out as being dirty or worn out. The ship isn't even a year old yet so it still looks quite new. I will say that it sometimes took crew members a while to clear away dishes from tables after guests had finished, but otherwise it felt very clean.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our cabin was awesome, I don't have any complaints about it! We got a large couch that can be a pullout bed for those who need it (there were two of us so we didn't need it) and a nice desk that was cut at a nice angle so there was no corner to bump into walking around the beds. There were USB outlets, American outlets, and European outlets. The bathroom was a normal small cruise ship size, but the layout of it worked nicely and there were no problems there. Balcony was also a great size - there was room for two chairs and even a footrest.
Be aware that to ride the zip line, you have to go down to the entertainment/game complex on the ship and buy your badge first, then take your badge up to the zip line. Also, make sure you make reservations for the evening shows at least ten minutes in advance! It's easy to do on the app; they scan your card when you get to the theater. Get the 7:15 dinner seating if you can, we loved that time because it wasn't too early to enjoy the late afternoon doing other things, but it wasn't too late that we were hungry. We didn't miss out on any shows with that time, either.
I feel really bad giving St. Maarten 3 stars, but it was honestly really depressing. We did an island tour through MSC and it was basically a hurricane tour since the hurricanes last year. They destroyed the island and a lot of homes/businesses are now abandoned. We did enjoy Mullet Bay Beach at the end of the tour though, very pretty. After our excursion we took a taxi to Maho Beach and the adjacent Sunset Bar which was really nice.
San Juan was awesome and it's one of my new favorite places I've been on a cruise. We wandered around on our own and went to the fort right in town, lots of little stores with locally-made goods, a coffee shop that was recommended to me (SO good!), a little restaurant recommended to us by a local shop owner, and the street with the umbrellas on it. Old San Juan is so colorful and easily walkable, I want to come back here for a full land vacation.
I've been to Nassau once before, but this time I think I had an even better time. We booked parasailing through Adventure Parasailing and that was a blast - so much fun. Then we ate lunch at Señor Frog's, walked up to the Queen's Staircase (which is so beautiful!) and ended our afternoon at Junkanoo Beach.
5 out of 5
Disembarkation was as easy as it could be. There was a bit of a line in the terminal once off the ship, but it went fairly quickly and we had no issues. It's always a sad morning when you're getting off a cruise ship!
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