MSC Seaside Cruise Review by AMBGlobetrotter
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Fantastica Balcony Stateroom
Embarkation and disembarkation in Miami was fast and easy. Our bags were delivered on and off the ship very quickly - leave it to the porters. It’s baffling to me how many people drag huge luggage around with them on the first and last day.
The Seaside is beautiful. The Bridge of Sighs is very popular on the first day, go up at sunset for some great photos whether you’re in port or not. We liked dropping into the Sports Bar (the most inviting of any we’ve found on a ship) before or after an evening meal. There’s also a nice spot to relax on Deck 8, outside between the Sports Bar and La Boheme bistro. You’ll also find yourself taking a lot of pictures of the Atrium.
The balcony stateroom, 14240, was an alright fit for three people. The bathroom was a little small but the balcony was a good size.
Dining - This was our first experience with having a formal dining time on a cruise and we were more okay with it than we thought we would be. 7:30pm meant we had enough time in the late afternoon by the pool but still time to catch an evening show afterwards. Yudi & Karen in the Seashore restaurant were fantastic throughout. The one night we got to try Ipanema (the other complimentary restaurant) we found it a much nicer room. We were seated with other diners (most people weren’t, it seems), but thankfully this was fine because, well, they were fine, however we would always prefer to dine by ourselves. The food every night was good, nothing particularly outstanding. If you normally order steak medium, get it medium-rare. They really push the speciality dining but none of it tempted us. Would be nice to see some clear allergen information at the buffet as there isn’t enough of it.
Entertainment - MSC falls short here. We only really experienced the evening ‘showtime’ shows. You can skip most of these because the vast majority are near-identical shows every night. Traditional European/Italian variety shows - opening number, dance, circus acrobatics, maybe a magic trick or two and a big closing number. The shows are billed as being vastly different in their synopsis, they’re not. Timeless, The Wizard, The Dream, Fly… you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all with different costumes. A bit of research finds they are all productions by the same company. My advice would be to see The Wizard, Peter Punk (as it’s slightly different) and Starwalker, the Michael Jackson tribute, which is (thankfully) a different sort of show and the best of the lot. Starwalker is the only show which reaches the standard of entertainment we’ve come to expect from other cruises with NCL & RCI. The line-up of shows is disappointing and, quite honestly, lazy on the part of the entertainment commissioners. It contrasts their performers who clearly work hard every night. BeerProv and the opera didn’t tempt us. Would’ve been nice to see some stand-up. MasterChef at Sea was a fun way to kill an hour during a Sea Day.
Ports of Call - We stopped at San Juan, Charlotte Amalie, Philipsburg, and Nassau. All of these are worth getting off for, however the time we were in all bar Charlotte Amalie felt way too short. It felt like the cruise should’ve been done in a different order (so we had longer in each port) as we were only in San Juan in the evening and had to leave Philipsburg at 2pm. My top recommendations are Magens Bay in Charlotte Amalie and Maho Beach in Philipsburg (you can either Google this beach or be surprised at its USP).
Some miscellaneous notes - I’m not big on shopping but grab the port shopping maps for some free souvenir coupons (largely no purchase necessary). The MSC for Me app & wristband are really useful and worked with no issues. The ship map & ability to book shows through it are handy (on that note, book all your shows on the first day of the cruise). Bistro la Boheme is not really used for anything and the bar next to it didn’t seem to be open much, I expect it to be revamped come refit time. I do appreciate the number of tannoy announcements being small compared to other ships - not being bothered by the casino, excursions, shopping, future cruise team etc. We were surprised at the things that cost extra such as billiards and the zip wire, and how ludicrously expensive most of these extra activities were. The casino is also on the small side.
A rather important note - of all the ships I’ve been on, this is the one I’ve felt the ship’s movement on the most by far. On all the others you’d feel it for a few seconds every once in a while, on this ship it’s frequent, more or less constant whilst sailing, and particularly noticeable when you’re lying in bed (on deck 14, at least). It doesn’t bother me so much but I know it has bothered other passengers, and it does put me off travelling on this ship again in case we face choppier waters. At one point during MasterChef at Sea, the host remarked “your spaghetti is vibrating”. Our coat hangers also crashed about in the night, and we’re fairly sure it’s not paranormal activity.
Overall - our Eastern Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside was enjoyable. The ports of call were great but I wish we’d had more time in them. The ship is, again, beautiful but unfortunately MSC do lack in some areas - speciality dining didn’t appeal to us (but we have done this with other cruise lines), the cuisine and price weren’t attractive, and the entertainment needs dramatic improvement. We won’t be hurrying back to MSC, but if you want a change from the likes of NCL & RCI, certainly consider getting on board the Seaside (though maybe not if you get seasick).
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
MiamiMiami is a great port to sail out of - definitely be out on deck for sailaway! In Miami, head down to Miami Beach for a dip. If it's where you're embarking, it's always worth spending a few days in South Beach before your cruise.View All 2,395 Miami Cruise Port Reviews
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NassauThird time in Nassau so mainly wandered downtown. First timers should climb the Queen's Staircase and visit Fort Fincastle. Big up Sharkeez Tiki Bar, 2 minute walk from the port, for a great selection of Caribbean beers and fast free wi-fi!View All 5,873 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
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San JuanThe Old Town is great! Even if you're only in port for a few hours, you have enough time to explore it.View All 3,767 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
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St. MaartenGet a taxi from the port to Maho Beach ($16 return). Maho Beach is famous for its USP - and is definitely worth going for - but it's also a nice, slightly small, beach to have a dip in the Caribbean Sea.View All 4,728 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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St. ThomasGet the taxi to Magens Bay ($8 per person from downtown), stunning place!View All 4,646 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
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