This past week I took a Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside ship. This is a new ship that is about six months old. MSC is an Italian cruise line company. It was definitely different than the other cruise lines (Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean) I have been on prior.
The Ship: Seaside
The ship itself has 20 decks, it is massive. There are three public pools, two zip lines, three water slides, a bowling alley, virtual reality games, a spa, private club, and much more. A warning, not everything is included. You have to pay extra for the bowling alley, water slides, zip lines, the private club, spa, and the games. Then again, other cruise lines also have similar fees. The only thing I, personally, paid extra for was the water slides and zip lines. It was a package that was $20 for both. I did not even get to use the zip lines because they opened it up the last day we were on the ship and I was participating in other events so I didn’t have time to. The water slides were pretty fun! It’s annoying that you had to pay extra for them, but I enjoyed it. There is only one club on board, but it’s for both teens and adults. This was a little weird. We spent a lot of time at their Haven Lounge because that was more for adults. The decks get a little confusing. There were times that you had to cross above certain decks to get to where you needed to go. I was never so comfortable to the point where I memorized what was on what deck. That’s usually simple to do, but not with this ship. The pools were also tiny. There’s usually at least one large pool on the ship, but not on this one. Each of three were pretty small. Our package included internet on board for two devices. The internet was high-speed which was great, but you were only given 3,000 MB. We used it mainly to communicate on board the ship and to do my homework.
There were two sit-don restaurants and two buffets that were included. The buffets were okay. My favorite meal was the lunch buffet. That’s where they had the most diverse food and it would change everyday. The breakfast and dinner buffets there weren’t as good. The breakfast never really changed, it was the same most of the time. Dinner really wasn’t that great at the buffet. We only ate dinner there once and immediately regretted it. The sit down dinner was good, but the portions were tiny! I had to order two entrees or two of the same entree. One plate really wasn’t enough. It was ridiculous how small some of their positions were. Their starters were always yummy. I was always contemplating what to order. Desserts were also fantastic. Everything was top notch! The desserts were probably my favorite part of the restaurant.
We ate at one of the specialty restaurants they had on board. It was a Japanese Hibachi restaurant. The prices weren’t too bad, it was worth it. This had to have been the best dinner we had on the ship. Everything was delicious and the service was great. *IMPORTANT* Either skip lunch or have a very small lunch before you eat dinner here. They serve you SO much food. You’ll want to taste everything so, seriously, don’t eat lunch that day. I was upset that I was too full to have more of the chicken they made. It was outstanding, but I only had a few bites of it.
My absolute favorite place on the ship was Venchi! Venchi is a chocolate shop on board that sells milkshakes, chocolate, gelato, coffee, hot chocolate, and chocolate-themed drinks. Everything here was AMAZING! I’d go here at least once a day. One of the drink packages includes gelato and milkshakes. I highly recommend getting that one because these shakes are to die for. I’m seriously craving one right now.
The ship docked at three different island: St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.
First stop was St. Maarten where the adventure begins. Here we bought the “Big Three” package at Rainforest Adventures. It was $115 per person. The package included the ride up, the “Flying Dutchman,” four zip lines through a canopy, and a tube ride. This was all so much fun. I highly recommend this if you’re an adventurous person. There are also different packages if you just want do one or two things. Being here took about three hours. After that, we went to the Airport Beach. This is the airport that is right next to a beach. Planes are constantly flying over your head. It’s a super fun experience! There’s also a restaurant here. I ordered the Shrimp PoBoy here and it was fantastic. You could tell the shrimp was fresh. If you’re all the way here, make sure to take a taxi back at least an hour and a half before your ship leaves. There may be a lot of traffic on the way back and this beach is far from the port.
Next stop was Puerto Rico and had decided to play it by ear. We walked the streets of San Juan up to the Castillo de San Cristobal. Tickets here are $7 per person to enter. Anyone 15 or younger is free. It was cool to see and it had some breathe-taking views, but not something I’d do again. If you’ve seen any other old forts, like the one in St. Augustine, that’s exactly how this one looks. It is interesting to see though. Plus, walking the streets of San Juan is a fun experience. After being here for about an hour and a half we headed to the ferry dock. This ferry would take us to Catano, Puerto Rico. This is where Casa Bacardi is located. Once the ferry took us over, we hopped on a taxi to get to Casa Bacardi. It was about 10 minutes away. There are three different tour packages to purchase. We purchased the $15 per person one that included one cocktail for any guest who was of age. The drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18. Their daquri is fantastic. It was interesting to learn the history of it before going to try the drink. The tour itself is a lot of fun. If you’re a rum fan you’re going to really enjoy learning about the history of Bacardi. I highly recommend coming here if you ever visit Puerto Rico. It’s a unique experience.
Last stop was at Nassau, Bahamas. A lot of our group had been here several times, but there is something that a lot of us have never done. That was, Atlantis. Atlantis is an incredible resort with several water slides, pools, a private beach, and more! It’s located on Paradise Island, which was about 15 minutes form the port. You can either take a taxi or a ferry over to it. We decided on taxi. Now, since I was with a family of four we decided on getting a room at the Comfort Inn and Suites, which is right next door to Atlantis. This room included all four tickets. It was around $400 for the room. If we would have bought four tickets through Atlantis the tickets would have been $166 per person. So, if you’re looking to save money, try out the tactic we did! Everyone else in our party did the same as well. Atlantis was an incredible adventure! I’d love to go back again. It’s seriously a must-do if you’re ever in Nassau. All the water slides were crazy, but exciting. There’s also one that takes you through a large fish tank. You get to float through it which really helps you take in the experience. Out of all the times I’ve visited Nassau, that was the best. Don’t miss out on Atlantis!
The entertainment on the ship wasn’t too bad! They had themed events and parties every day. They had a great entertainment team that helped bring the fun to the crowds. The entertainment was probably my favorite part of the ship. I really enjoyed all the games they played throughout the days when we were at sea. They do a great job in entertaining their guests. They had two karaoke nights on board. One was regular karaoke. It was even more fun because it was on the top deck and people were able to sing on a large stage. The other karaoke night was with a live band. It was okay, but the microphone had some problems and it wasn’t as nice as I thought it was going to be. Their shows were always very interesting. They never had any type of plot, but were still really enjoyable. Over all most of the events I attended were fantastic! I give them an A+ for their daily schedules on board.
The service around the ship was also great. Our waiter at dinner was always a delight. He was always able to accommodate us and suggest the perfect meals. The entertainment crew I mentioned above was awesome! It was fun getting to know some of them. They are a great time and worked so well together. I really liked that it was the same people hosting events and games on board. Room service was great and helpful. Whenever I’d get lost they’d always help me to get where I needed to go. I never had a tough time with any employees. Everyone was great!
Overall it was OKAY. The ship itself had a strange set-up and I would definitely change/add some aspects on the ship. Like I said, I loved the service, entertainment, and some of the food. Other people in my party were very disappointed with the ship, but they agreed that the entertainment was very good. Truthfully, I don’t think I would sail MSC again. It was an interesting experience to say the least. In total for my family of four we paid $2,450. This was for a cabin with a balcony, internet for two devices, 12 drinks per person, $50 on board cruise credit, and port charges/taxes. It wasn’t a incredibly expensive cruise, especially because it was seven days. The MSC Seaside wasn’t too terrible, but I’d recommend maybe trying another MSC ship or different cruise line.
Shout out to the best drink on the cruise, The Purple Rain!