MSC Seaside - something for everybody
After cruising on Preziosa in its maiden season we booked Seaside to try its first ship aimed at the American market. Embarkation was easy - very slick and we boarded the ship lunchtime. The ship is stunning - we had a balcony cabin on deck 9. The cabin was spacious and our room attendant was excellent. We ate in both the main dining rooms as MSC changed our restaurant the 2nd day for some reason but ate the majority of our meals in the Seashore restaurant.Our dining time was 7.45pm. There was a 6pm sitting and a 9.15 sitting. We didn't dine in any speciality restaurants. Food was excellent - a general complaint with MSC is that the food isn't hot. It was hot enough - they are serving 1000's at a time across the ship so mealtimes aren't long lingering affairs but still a nice dining experience. Breakfast - we ate some of the time in the Market place buffet. This could be chaotic - especially on Port days. Lunch times you had to wait for tables but the staff cleared tables quickly. We had the drinks package which at 38 per day was good value. One touch that was great was they have interactive bells on the tables. You press the button and a drinks waiter is at your table in seconds. There was also self service beer and wine. You just scanned your card and poured. We bought the sports package which included the zip line, bowling alley and 4 d cinema. All were great - 4d cinema especially. The only issure was the zipline was closed more than it was open due to the wind and this is common in the Caribbean. Shops on board were a good mix of boutiques, jewellery shops ( Effi), chocolate shops and there were daily markets on board selling watches, t shirts etc. The markets could be chaotic and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. T shirts were a good buy, but the watches were the same price in department stores in the USA so not really a bargain. There is a coffee shop called Venci on board that served amazing coffee and ice cream. With the drinks package this was included - and you could also get ice creams on the pool deck. The atrium bar got packed - especially when there was entertainment on. There is a champagne bar in the Atrium that served amazing prosecco cocktails and we only discovered this bar on the last night as it was advertised as the champagne bar. Definitely worth a visit. Shows on board you could book in your cabin on screen or by using the app. We booked all our entertainment early in the cruise.The shows were very Italian in style. Opera type productions with acrobatics. The shows were well produced and impressive. Later in the week the shows seemed to repeat some of the content in a different format, but they were still watchable and the cast were extremely talented. Daytime entertainment was pretty much what you find on other lines. Dance classes, pool competitions. Pools areas are huge and we never had an issue getting beds. The bar waited Gregory at the pool bars was amazing and looked after us the whole cruise - remembering our favourite drinks and was one of the best bar waiters I have ever met on a cruise ship.The Aqua park was good fun. You had to sign forms for this and we did this when we boarded on the first day. The next day the queue was huge to sign up so try to sign up for the aqua park when you get onboard. We loved the ports of call. The ship is big, but not so big that it can't get into some of the ports. Nassau, Jamaica, Cozumel, Grand Cayman. We booked our own excursion to go to Sting Ray city through Rowan Water sports before we left the UK. Wanda the owner is lovely. They were waiting at the port when we arrived, took us on a bus then boat to Sting Ray city then Starfish beach on the way back. Their son was the skipper of the boat and took loads of photos of each family then you could buy the download before you left the trip. We are so glad we did. The quality of the photos was amazing and a fraction of what you would pay on a cruise ship excursion. Evening entertainment was a mixture of silent disco's, white parties, 70's parties and atrium events.All great fun and never uncomfortably packet like some other cruises we have been on. Disembarkation was good leaving the ship but chaos back in Miami at the terminal. It was difficult to manouevre through the crowds and will be better when they build a bigger terminal. Pick up buses were struggling to park and taxis where overwhelmed. However we had a shuttle bus back to the airport and managed to locate this after a trek. Would I cruise MSC again - yes. Without a doubt. As a cruise line I firmly believe they are on the way up.They remind us of Royal Caribbean 25 years ago when their market was growing and fleet was increasing. We have cruised with lots of other lines over the years and seen the quality decline but prices go up. MSC offer excellent value for money - especially if you are travelling with children. Their quality is excellent, food, enttertainment and fleet. Don't go expecting a primarily British or American market. You won't find it. They are an Italian Cruise line and both times we have cruised the market has been mainly Italian. This is part of the appeal. Unfortunately MSC still get a lot of negative reviews from Brits because the cruises aren't british enough. Ignore them. You can't please everybody and I believe that some reviews would really put people off or make them wary. Instead focus on the good things about the cruise and with MSC there are lots of great things. We have been cruising for 25 years with RCCL,MSC, Costa, P&O and Norwegian and have seen it change over the years. Go with an open mind and embrace the Italian style. We did and now love MSC.
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