Butler good. Asst Butler great. Food OK. Venchi great. Pizza excellent! Beautiful ship. Too big for us. Entertainment good. Ratio of Americans to Europeans probably 1 in 8. English language skill of staff C+. On board activities B+ (some were too pricey, in our view). Air conditioning - inconsistent throughout the areas we visited. Yacht Club experience - if you get a good price, go for it.
Would we do another MSC cruise? We are uncertain at this point. The change in itinerary and the way MSC handled the communication about that still rankles. The future cruise credit and $100 per cabin of OBC is way less than we deserve considering plans we'd made. The excursions in the replacement ports were more expensive than at the ports we visited or were going to visit. MSC should have at least offered a discount for those as if we were buying them pre-cruise.
I wanted to love this cruise and this ship. I went in with an open mind having read many bad reviews but also having watched lots of positive videos. I didn't have high hopes for the food (Celebrity has spoiled me, I will confess) so wasn't disappointed there. I expected more surly crew. That did not happen. I had a low bar set for the shows. While I can criticize every show (I went to 4) I did not feel as if I wasted my time. I enjoyed a lot of what I saw. Big tip regarding shows: you can watch them in your cabin on one of the on board happenings channels. Not live but they seemed to air during the last show of the night.
A lot of people have commented that maybe some Americans aren't ready for a European-style experience. And yet MSC has big plans with 3 ships a year launching over the next 5 years (not all for North America, I'm sure). Does MSC want North American business or are they still just a European cruise line that is putting more ships in other parts of the world for their European customers? I imagine it's hard enough to cater to the many nationalities in Europe then add in Americans. Hearing announcements in 6 languages gets tiresome, I will admit, especially when 5 nationalities are all talking so the 6th can't hear what's being said in their language. And I almost forgot the muster drill. I don't know why they even have them on MSC. No one can hear what crew are saying. When I mentioned this to a crew member he just shrugged and said people can watch the safety video in their cabin. Anyway, MSC still has a ways to go, in my opinion, if they want the American market to embrace them. In the meantime, if you go in with the right attitude and maybe a 2nd language you'll have a good time.
4 out of 5
We saw the Yacht Club tent but our car couldn't stop there because there was a cab stand for people still disembarking. Fortunately, a porter farther down helped us with our bags and walked us back to where a butler took over and walked us into the terminal, through security and up to the Yacht Club check-in lounge, after which he offered us champagne and a snack. A few minutes later we were called to finalize check-in and get our sea passes and wrist bands. Soon we were walked up to the ship where another butler took over and walked us to the Yacht Club on the ship.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
My rating would be lower if we hadn't eaten in 3 specialty restaurants. We tried the buffet once and had no desire to go back. It was partly closed off, not busy at all, but the food was not exciting to look at and blander to eat - except for the pizza. The pizza was so good we ordered it in our cabin twice. It's our 2nd-favorite pizza in the world now (1st being the chain, New York Pizza, in Amsterdam). Because of the specialty restaurants we didn't eat dinner much in the Yacht Club. We did eat most lunches there, however. Breakfast was mostly in the room. The food, overall, was OK - nothing stood out like you would expect in that type of venue. Portion sizes went from small to big to small again. Service was good but often it took some repeating on both sides to be understood. The food stand-outs were the Teppanyaki and Pan-Asian restaurants. Just great food and service with no miscommunications. Butchers Cut was good but my steak had more gristle than I thought it should have and the service was a bit slow. But everything tasted very good. Loved Venchi.
4 out of 5
There's always something to do on Seaside. We mostly just walked around and people watched from several of the many sitting areas.
4 out of 5
I'll say this - there's a lot of talent in the theater cast. However, not all of them need to be in every show. If you advertise a show based on movie music why are you performing recent pop songs and where do acrobats, a pole dancer, a uncharismatic magician, and ballroom dancers fit in? There really was no theme in any show but the last, the popular Michael Jackson review. I often felt I was watching an old Ed Sullivan or vaudeville show - which isn't bad, mind you. The Europeans loved it all, especially the Italians who seemed to make up half the audience.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Other than some slow service now and again, everyone was always pleasant - even when we struggled to understand each other.
5 out of 5
It's a beautiful ship. You're never far from outside. If you review the deck plans before you board you'll get around a lot easier than those who don't. Keep in mind that one elevator in each of the 2 forward elevator banks are designated priority for Yacht Club guests. If you get on one with someone going to the Yacht Club you'll go all the way up to 16, 18 or 19 before you can push a button to go to your deck.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
We booked this cruise well over a year ahead and got an excellent price on one of the 2 Royal Suites in the Yacht Club. The cabin and veranda have almost as much square footage as my house. This cabin is huge. There's way more storage than anyone would ever need. Two big rooms, the giant balcony with a hot tub and a table that seats 6, the "hallway" with 2 closets and another with just shelving, the big bathroom with a tub and good-sized walk-in shower. The veranda can be accessed from with the living room (with 2 sofas and 2 easy chairs) and the bedroom (king-size bed). TVs in both rooms. A fair amount of plugs but not all where you'd want them. (None at either nightstand, for instance.) The balcony also had 2 deck chairs with foot stools and 2 loungers. There was enough space left over in the main room to put in a full kitchen but all we had was the mini-fridge and a Nespresso machine. The space was big enough for a table. We wished there had been one because it was often too hot and/or windy to eat outside. The bed was very comfortable. The sofa bed - not so much. You can feel every bar beneath the very thin mattress. The decor is modern, I guess - very gray. Not cozy. I've been in Hampton Inns that were felt more welcoming. But it's HUGE! Major negative - I smelled sewer nearly all the time. And not only in the cabin. It wasn't overpowering but it was there.
I loved having a butler but the Yacht Club is in the forward part of the ship. I would rather have been mid-ship so I didn't have to walk so much. (We're both older, with some mobility issues.) But Yacht Club is definitely the way to go. The forward view from the lounge and restaurant is fabulous!
I hated that we got in so late (5pm). We walked up to Colon Plaza then up Fortelezza St. Restaurants were open but most shops were closing up. The umbrella street is no more, which was one reason we walked the length of the street - to be awed at the end. We ended up getting a Lyft back to the ship. On the plus side, there's a Walgreens right across from the pier in case you forgot anything.
We did an accessible bus tour. Turns out this means it's short with few stops. We got a good narrative from the driver. At each stop we could see a different part of the island. We did go to Mountain Top where we tried the "famous" banana daquiris. There's a very nice store there - not too pricey - but the view of Magen's Bay and the British V.I. is why you would go there. I wish we could have explored more of the island. The shops at the port are all the same as every port.
One reason we booked his cruise was to be among the first to visit MSC's private island. The opening had been pushed back again and again. When we boarded we knew we weren't going there but we didn't know Nassau had been cancelled or where we were going instead (Road Town, Tortola, BVI and Amber Cove, Dominican Republic - both ports I wish we'd missed).
1 out of 5
Our butler walked us to the door but was not able to leave the ship so we weren't sure where we were going. (On a previous cruise on a different line the butler walked us to our luggage where a porter took over and walked us through immigration.) Immigration was merely a matter of getting in the shortest line and showing your passport. When we got down to where the luggage was we had to ask several times where Yacht Club luggage was. Finally a porter came to our rescue just before we would have walked in the wrong direction. He dropped us off at the curb where we waited for our Lyft. The port of Miami is a mess. Our driver kept going the wrong way and drove past us because the security wouldn't let cars stop to pick up people because there were already cars stopped. Our driver apparently grew frustrated and dropped us. Fortunately, we were able to get another Lyft soon after. Total time from leaving the YC lounge to getting in the car was close to an hour.
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