We just returned from a weeklong sailing on MSC Seaside, December 21-28, for Christmas. This was our second time on the Seaside and with MSC, we have an additional 5 cruises with Royal. We had a good time. Here is my take on a review of the entire trip.
We flew in PHX-FLL on Southwest nonstop. We live in CO but were traveling with family in Phoenix and air prices were best from there by a long shot. Traveling were Wife, 3yr old daughter, myself, My grandparents in their 80’s, father and mother in-law and Sister in law. In all we were 8. We did Uber from FLL to the Embassy Suites at MIA where we would spend Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday. The weather was mostly rainy, so I am glad we didn’t spend extra money to stay on the beach this trip. The hotel was great. We went to the Everglades via rental car for the day and a groupon. We went to a great local seafood place in little Havana for lunch and it was FANTASTIC. It was called, La Camaronera and Seafood Market, they are local and not a tourist stop. They only take cash but it is worth checking out, I will be back to get some more fried snapper!
Saturday, we boarded. We did the shuttle form the hotel for 10$ a person which ended up being a bit more than an Uber but worth it because shuttles get special parking where you aren’t yelled and rushed by port staff. Security was quick and we proceeded to the waiting area where we waited about 30-45 minutes. In all we arrived at port 11am and were on board by 1230. Not the slowest or the fasted embarkation we ever had, last year on Seaside it took 30 minutes from start to finish.
Once onboard we went for lunch. Buffet was crazy but food was good. Then we went to make some changed to our Roys trio. We would proceed to our rooms by 230pm. The first night dinner was Roys Sushi, or was it Fusion? Well nobody knew so some of us had sushi and some of us had fusion, I don’t think they usually allow this but it was dead for embarkation. Everything was top notch. Sushi was fresh and all the fusion dishes were OUTSTANDING. The Filet was so tender you could cut it with a fork. We would the proceed to bed.
Now I will cover individual points
Food In MDR. We had one bad night here which was Christmas eve when the served the Martha Stewart inspired menu. It was awful. In part in think it was rushed because ship was at CAPACITY fir Christmas week and this was supposed to be a port day in Grand Cayman but it got canceled due to weather so even more people wanted to eat in MDR. In my opinion more people skip MDR on port days. It also took us almost 3 hours from start to finish this night. We ate in the MDR several other nights and the food ranged from OK to great. This was on par from our previous cruise on Seaside. One night they did a homemade pasta exhibition and delivered bowls to the table. HANDS down the best pasta and sauce EVER! I ate 3 bowls
Food in Buffet. They had a great selection, but it did not change thru the week which was fine because who is eating one of everything each day? You don’t eat one of everything you have in the fridge each day at home, do you? The food tasted great and had a slight edge on quality and taste over MDR. We ate most breakfast and lunch in one of the two buffets and one dinner.
Food in Roys specialty. OUTSTANDING, go eat here. Sushi A. Asain fusion A+. Teppanyaki A++
Service. Was good for the most part. Most issues arose due to the Maxed-out capacity for Christmas week. I didn’t have any problems and service was better than October 2018.
Bars and beverage package. Bars were great. We had the old Classic package(not easy, premium or premium plus) and it caused a few problems because its fairly unique now. All our drinks tasted great and with a simple explanation to the bar staff on occasion it solved any roadblocks. It included Gelato, which I will miss in the future. Most times I could get any drink within 5 minutes or less
Seafood tower from Champagned bar. Food was great, they told me it would take 15-20 minutes, but it took an hour. All frustration was gone when we started eating it. Also, price went from 49$ to 69$
Stateroom/Cabin. Room 10002 Aurea interior room. Family had the other 10003 which was a mirror image. There is only 2 of these rooms. Here is a video review I did.
Ocean Cay. Ocean Cay was fantastic. It still has many operational issues to work out but since this island is run by the staff onboard the ship, it is going to take many more months to get it down. We had a Cabana on the north Island next door to the yacht club area. The cabana itself was nice and so was the beach. We had a cooler with ice and water and a bar next to use. The bar was almost useless as they didn’t have one ingredient or another to make drinks they had on the special menu. The food on the island was great and fresh, but if your on the north island you have to walk back to the seeker food court or the food truck next to it. This take 15 minutes each direction. There is NO food on North island on Bimini beach except yacht club. I hope they realize they need to move a food truck or two over to that island section to cut down on having to walk a half an hour to bring back food to the cabana. The cabana has NO attendant, and nobody checks on you or even asks for proof of purchase. When we showed up we had to shoo some people that decided that they were gonna use it for free. Light show was awesome. The parades were canceled for rain. See these videos that I posted to youtube
Ports. Ochos Rios was great. We did the Martha Stewart Konoko Falls and Murphy Hill. Konoko falls was close to the port and not crowded like Dunns is. Murphy hill was the highlight. You drive 40 minutes up the mountain on a dirt road that has almost no other cars. You get there and you are 1,700 ft above sea level and can see all of Ochos Rios. They show you the farm and then you will have an authentic cooked Jamaican meal at Ms Ts from thing all grown in the area. Our tour group of about 15 or so were the ONLY people up there besides staff. It was hands down one of the best excursions I have ever done. No crowds, no cattle hearding of people. Truly authentic experience that you don’t get on most excursions
Grand Cayman was cancelled due to weather and the port was closed.
Cozumel We did the Discover Mexico and the Joy of Chocolate, this was another fantastic excursion. Cozumel had 7 full sized cruise ships in port on Christmas day and was VERY busy so it took awhile to get to the paid cabs they arranged for transport because of this. The chocolate making was informative and fun and it included a walk through with a guided tour of the Discover Mexico park. They had a great margarita and fantastic taco bar all very reasonably priced.
Disembarkation. Holy good lord this was a hot mess of a cluster. I had Black tags for priority disembarkation group. If I had needed to be off fast I would have been even madder at this situation, and I was pretty agitated as it was. The sheet said to be in the Metro theater at 730 am. So, we got up and had early breakfast and were in there by 7ish, we waited and waited, the called 3 other colors that were supposed to be after us, each time repeating colors they had already called. They never said black. I finally got up and went to ask them about black. They said “oh we did that really early at 645, you can go now” Well that’s fine and dandy except now there are 4 groups of colors ahead of me and the stand and wait began. IT TOOK US 3 HOURS TO GET OFF INCLUDING 1 HOUR of UNEEDED WAITING IN THE METRO THEATER. AHHHHHHHHHHHH! The only defense I will give them is they were at max capacity and needed to keep things going. But they should have repeated the BLACK color group and updated the called status on the monitors.
Scooters. We had two people with electric scooters that did not get assigned a handicapped room. The scooters fit in the room for charging and we had no problems parking both in the hallway. The cabins steward even suggested it and cleaned them at night.
All in all we enjoyed our week aboard and would go again. I think most of our disappointments came from it being a popular sailing while we usually sail shoulder seasons. We have a cruise booked in may with Royal and a Europe Cruise booked in 2021 with MSC Grandiosa. I wouldn’t hesitate to book another Seaside or MSC cruise.