I was honored to be invited to attend a preview cruise on the brand new MSC Seaside. MSC has been in the cruising market for many years in Europe and is the largest shipping company in the world! It’s not a household name yet, but I expect as the word gets out, it soon will be! We set sail on its first 7-night guest sail on December 23, 2017.
This ship is joining her sister ship, MSC Divina, in Miami and is fully designed for the North American market. It will remain in Miami for alternate Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries.
One of the most popular questions I get asked when I return from a cruise or have a client looking into a ship is, “How is the food?” My son Sam, who joined me on the trip, and I did our best to sample as much food as we could so I could report back!
There are two buffets onboard, the Marketplace Buffet and the Biscayne Bay Restaurant & Buffet. We went to the Marketplace Buffet for lunch right after we boarded.
My tip is to always board early and head to lunch first to avoid the crowds. As people board, the buffet gets busier and busier, and by that time, you could by playing or relaxing by the pool!
The food was fresh, beautiful, well seasoned, and hot. Up to this point, I’ve always through Princess Cruises had my top mark for pizza, but not anymore! MSC Knows how to do pizza right. My son said the burgers were freshly grilled and did not taste like any old fast food burger.
My friends at Heather Loves Cruising also joined us, and between the four of us, we tackled this buffet like champs and all agreed the buffet was impressively YUMMY!
One thing we found particularly interesting is the beverage station in the buffet. In addition to self-serve soft drinks, juice, coffee, and tea, they have a bear station, as well as a wine station.*
Other treats around the ship include the Venchi Gelato & Chocolate Bar – just as good as it sounds! – and a second Venchi Gelato & Creperie. Ice cream is not included in the price of the cruise, unless you have the unlimited drink package, Aurea Experience.* To purchase gelato, it’s $3 for the small bowl and $5 for the bigger size. Crepes are $5, freshly made to order with four fillings and toppings.
If you like dark chocolate, the Azteca gelato had our taste buds dancing. For this Midwestern girl, the small size is a mere taste, but it is handmade, deliciously cold, creamy, and totally worth it.
We had dinner in the main dining room, the Seashore Restaurant.** We were seated promptly and dinner was very good. The dining room itself is beautifully decorated. The tables looked a bit close together when we first walked in, but we didn’t end up feeling crowded like I had expected.
There were many tables of 7-8 for larger families or families that are traveling together, which gives the MSC a definite plus. There were also a fair number of tables for 2-4 guests.
Our dinner for this preview sailing experience was a pre-fixed menu. On full sailings, there will be a full menu with several delicious options to select from. Our menu included Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Tortellini stuffed with porcini mushrooms, orange-glazed Chilean sea bass OR peppercorn-crusted filet mignon, and topping it off was a yogurt Mascarpone Cream.
The courses arrived in a very timely manner but did not come out before the previous course had been completed, which allowed us to enjoy our time and not feel rushed. Impressively, each hot course came out hot! One thing that I find aggravating is slow service and food that comes out warm instead of hot. On the MSC Seaside, I was more than pleased with our service!
If you are traveling with your kids, there are some special dinner options to help make the trip more enjoyable for you and them!
KIDS: Fun Time Dinners – As part of the daily kids’ activities, kids can dine with the entertainment staff every day in the buffet restaurant as well as times when there are themed parties which will include their dining times. Your kids can be entertained while you savor special moments of your own! (Free service)
KIDS: Happy Dinners – When kids need to eat, kids need to eat. “Happy Dinners” are designed to let kids eat in their typical quick manner, and they are escorted to the kid’s clubs to play with the entertainment staff while the adults can sit back and enjoy a more leisurely dining experience (free service). Children also have a dedicated children’s menu, including milk.
We enjoyed our breakfast at the Marketplace Buffet prior to disembarkation. It was again, pleasing to the eye and the palate. Our breakfast might have been a bit heavy on the carbs, as most buffets are, but there were other healthier options, as well, such as yogurt, Mueli, fruits, and meats. We decided to opt for the chocolate crescents… those were very good!
Overall, my two-day experience on the MSC Seaside was wonderful. Despite the short time that I was aboard this beauty, I received a good snapshot of the ship and what it has to offer, and I will definitely be back for a longer cruise (and more good dining soon!
*Soft drinks, beer, and wine are not included in Bella stateroom cruise fares and are charged at consumption. Booking your stateroom at the Fantastica level will get twelve drink vouchers per person, which can be used for these beverages. Aurea level bookings will have these beverages include, as well as the gelato!
** There are four Specialty Restaurants on this ship, as well, if you want to pay for a specialty experience – Bistrot – La Boheme (French); Butcher’s Cut & Chef Table (steakhouse); Ocean Cay (seafood and shellfish); and Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi (Hawaiian/Japanese blend). These dining experiences come with an additional surcharge but are sure to enhance your dining experience while onboard MSC Seaside.