Tuesday, October 8, 2019

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review - Canada


MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review
October 8, 2019
Just the Facts:
Ship: MSC Meraviglia
Captain: Stefano Battinelli
Hotel Director: Guiseppe Pane  -  Cruise Director: Gene Young
Ports: New York City, USA - Sydney, Cape Breton Island - Cornerbrook, Newfoundland Canada  - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada - Québec City, Québec Canada  - New York City, USA.

I’m cruising as a solo. This is my final of four consecutive cruises on the MSC Meraviglia, my 13th MSC cruise and my 150th cruise overall.  I do have several clients and very good cruise and personal friends sailing.  I am sailing 40 consecutive nights on board the Meraviglia. 

Tuesday October 8  /  Embarkation  /  New York City, USA  /  Day 1
NY Skyline at Sailaway
This is the third easy embarkation day in a row as I’m already on the ship and U.S. Customs was cleared yesterday.  I do have to change cabins this time as originally the DW was joining me for this segment, but alas plans changed. I will enjoy the balcony.  I was up early and NOW the WiFi from previous cruise is working…so stayed up and took advantage of it setting up this new review and checking on business.  I went to breakfast in the MDR as usual, I heard the news about Québec no longer being an overnight from English neighbors also on a B2B.  Since we cleared customs GS was processing B2B guests, and there are a lot, so I went to the GS desk and they processed my new card.  BUT first they gave me the good news, they did process a credit for my WiFi, a equatable amount so I am very pleased.  MSC has been nothing but excellent in guest service to me.  I actually moved my own items to my new cabin, it only took 20 minutes, and I had control of everything and I was done with it.  So all settled into the new balcony by 10:30 am.  At 12:30 I lucked into a banquet for Travel Agents visiting the ship in the Panorama Restaurant.  We had a fantastic menu and I ordered: Creamed Mozzarilla LaFondant, Pepper Crusted Sirloin Steak, and Passion Fruit Panna Cotta,  all very good.  I went upstairs to the Sky Bar, still only serving wine and beer until we leave New York, seems to be a problem ship wide with drink packages not being recognized at bar stations.  I'm very lucky and feel a little guilty as there have been long lines for guests boarding the ship today including my friends, not sure if it's organization or the travel agents gumming up the process. I began seeing friends in the Sky Lounge…enjoyed visiting with them and the wonderful view of Manhattan.  I stayed to enjoy the view when everyone went to boat drill and a Casino party sprung up around me so I enjoyed some complementary Cosmopolitans, I had been trying to get two since yesterday.  Thanks Casino.The MSC Meraviglia pushed off pier 88 about 7:30 pm into the Hudson River.  The New York Skyline was so beautiful as we sailed down the Hudson.  The group and I have 8:00 pm dining this cruise in the L’Olive d’Oro dining room on deck six.  It was a mess going to dinner as so many guests were late at first sitting that they were late 20 minutes late opening and it was a mass of people trying to get into the MDR.  Worst I have seen.  Tonight I ordered: Nicoise Salad, Za’atar Crusted Lamb T-Bone Chops, and Catalonian Creme for dessert.  After dinner I had a Mango Sorbet on deck six, before retiring to the new cabin.  It was a stressful day for many boarding guests, but it was actually a great day for me on this transition day.

Wednesday October 9  /  Day at Sea  /  Day 2
Brass Anchor Pub
Rolling seas overnight with a lot of movement that can be felt on deck 13 much more than on deck 5 my previous deck.  I had trouble getting to sleep in my new environment, or it could have been the sorbet.  I went to the MDR at 8:00 am for breakfast, I don’t even have to order anymore…the waiters know me by name and what I like for breakfast.   We turned our time forward an hour to be on Atlantic Time so now 2 hours off of Texas time.  At 10:00 am they held a Cruise Critic reception in the Sky Lounge.  Very glad I went as I was recognized as having having sailed 100 times on MSC, of course not true, but fairly close to the message. I have experience on 150 cruises and my cruise line of choice is now MSC.  What I really appreciated was the seven people who came to me afterward and said they read my blog.  Thank you folks, I always wonder if people get good cruise information in my simple presentations here.  And thank you MSC Meraviglia staff. The seas are really rolling today, I doubt I will see my Cirque du Soleil show tonight.  I had lunch in the L’Olive d’ora Restaurant my first time in there.  I ordered: Cobb Salad, Penne Pasta with Shrimp Arrabbiata, and Boston Creme Pie.  It was good.  I alternated between the Brass Anchor and the Sky Lounge most of the afternoon.  I was right about cancelling shows, not only was Cirque du Soleil cancelled but all the Production shows in the theater as well.  Plenty of music in the lounges though. The group met for cocktails before dinner in the Sky Lounge, it was very nice.  There was not the big scene at dinner this evening as we were seated at 8:00ish the regular time.  Tonight I ordered: Greek Salad, Homemade Lobster Ravioli, Beef Tournedos, and Peanut Butter Pie for dessert.  All were very good especially the entree and pie.   I’m doing the Rest & Relaxation thing tonight and retired to cabin early.  My new internet package is actually working well through the stormy weather...much better than previous cruise but it is a limited package so I have to be careful with bandwidth,  It was a great sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Thursday October 10  /  Sydney, Cape Breton Island  Canada  / Sea Day  /  Day 3
Meraviglia Galleria
Rolling Seas overnight but improved by morning with blue skies through out the day.  I slept well, but woke early then went to the MDR for breakfast.  Another Heuvos Rancheros morning with extras for me, and I was in and out quickly.  Much better weather today and I went up to Sky Lounge on deck 18 to see if I could pick up WiFi from the coast of Nova Scotia on my iPhone, I could.  I spent the morning on the internet and also brought up the Marine Ships Application maps to see our location…we were due to dock at 1:00 pm then 2:00 pm due to leaving NYC late.  Looking at the marine charts I knew we were still hours from port in Sydney  when I finally thought to look at cruise details it listed Corner Brook as our destination.  I knew that I had information no other guests knew…we won’t make it to Sydney.  At noon when the Captain made his usual announcements he stated that due to the harsh weather yesterday they could not make up for the late departure and that we actually lost time so that we would not make our first port of Sydney.  I believe it was absolutely the correct call.  With reduced time in port it would have been a repeat of the New York fiasco with guests leaving and returning to the ship with long waiting times in a line.  It was the right call by MSC and they offered $300 per cabin compensation for missing the port.  That is very generous as they actually do not have to offer anything to the guests.  I will miss eating a Lobster Roll and my Cape Briton Fiddle excursion, but still the responsible decision by MSC.  We’ll now be in Corner Brook early and Canadian Customs will be able to clear the ship earlier…that will be good for guests aboard. A Housekeeping officer came by to check on things and I mentioned the wardrobe doors off the henges and I shred the story about MSC housekeeping locking me out on the balcony a few years back.  I went to the Marketplace for a Pizza lunch about 2:00 pm and discovered some Peanut Butter Pie as well.  Sweet.  About 4:00 pm we had a gathering in the Brass Anchor and I had my share of Stella Artois beer.  It was great fun with the old gang.  At 7:00 pm I returned to the cabin to prepare for dinner, wardrobe door now working fantastically, and made 8:00 pm start for dinner.  It was a Caribbean Night menu , a new menu to me and I ordered: Virgin Island Salad, Fisherman’s Plate, Oven-roasted Jerk Chicken, and Key Lime Pie for dessert.  Other options were: Jamaican Style Beef, Creole Pasta, Guadeloupe-style Shrimp Tails, and more.  I retired after dinner to update blog and review options for Corner Brook since we’ll be there a bit longer tomorrow.  It was a profitable and fun day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Friday  October 11  /  Corner Brook, Newfoundland Canada  /  Day 4
Colors of Corner Brook Festival
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke about 7:00 am.  We turned our clocks forward a half hour…I have never done that before today.  Newfoundland and Labrador have unique time zones.  Beautiful sunrise, it looks to be a cool but clear and dry day.  I went up to the MarketPlace for a light quick breakfast then to the TV Lounge on deck 7 my excursion meeting spot. I discovered That I have friends that booked on the same excursion: Corner Brook Highlights. We were off about 9:30 pm, 52 new friends, for our two hour tour.  First two stops were the Old Man in the Mountain and a memorial Totem called Heritage Tree.  Kind of spots contrived by the locals for tourists, I didn’t mind as the weather was perfect and the trees were very colorful.  Final stop was the Captain James Cook Historic Site with an impressive view of the City of Corner Brook and the spectacular Blomidon Mountains, caves and the Bay of Islands explored by Cook.  A very nice site to visit.  I chose the drop off in town option and a good choice as the local Fall Festival Colors of Corner Brook was in full swing in the town center.  A few vendors, only one food truck, but nice Maritime/Celtic music,  I discovered a nice hotel restaurant/bar, the Crown & Moose (If I ever open a Pub it will be called the Moose & Squirrel).  I had a Black Horse beer, a beer just made for the Newfoundland market and a fried Cod Plate.  Both very good.  I walked bak to the ship and was on board by 3:00 pm.  It was a nice little tour of Corner Brook, but once you’ve visited your probably done, as lovely as it was.  I took advantage of my iPhone hot-spot to use the internet…I also discovered that there is a daily limit on international hot-spot bandwidth.  The DW called and she had an automobile accident last night, she’s fine, car not so much.  She ran into a group of feral hogs crossing the road in the darkness.  Another thing to take care of when I get back to the ranch.  Met friends in Brass Anchor before dinner.  I was hungry this evening and dinner did not disappoint.  I ordered: Asian Salad, Rigatoni Meatballs, Duck a l’Orange, and Kiwi Sorbet & Apple Strudel for dessert.  The Rigatoni Meatballs were really good.  Pub music in Brass Anchor and Jazz in the Sky Lounge my two favorite hangouts, but again retiring early with big excursion tomorrow. It was a nice visit to Corner Brook Newfoundland and afternoon on the MSC Meraviglia.

Saturday October 12  /  Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada   /  Day 5
Green Gables
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke about 7:15 am. We turned our time back the half hour so now back on Atlantic time, for a day.  I went up to the Marketplace for a very light breakfast, I forget that I have the Fantastica level this cruise and Room Service is included.  I’ll try that on next excursion day.  It was beautiful sailing into port but it’s a damp looking day.  Most of our group is on the same excursion today: Island’s Finest—Anne, Lobster, & Scenic Drive.  We all met at the theater at 9:15 and snuck to the buses about 10:00 am.  Soon we were on our way, but the weather is not cooperating as it’s raining.  We did a panoramic drive through downtown Charlottetown, a pretty little city, then headed north across the island.  Our guide was good, the countryside was green and the trees were full of color.  Soon we were at Green Gables Heritage Place the famous farm from the novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a local.  It’s a very delightful place with museum displays, history of the people and novel, tea room, interpretive center and of course the famous farmhouse itself.  After our time here we went to the Prince Edward Island National Park where we had a photo opportunity on the north shore bluffs…it was only for the brave as the wind and rain whipping on this bluff…the sand dunes were interesting too. Our final stop was at the PEI Preserve Company, a great place for a Lobster dinner. I actually had a second entree, Potato Pie, just for a proper PEI food sampling.  We arrived back at the very nice PEI cruise terminal about 4:15 pm so time for a little shopping before returning to ship.  Very impressed with the cruise facilities, they had vendors, music, crafts, Wifi, tourist information, and more.  I had been getting football scores during the day and once onboard confirmed the victory of my Oklahoma Sooners over the Texas shorthorns.  I met friends in the Brass Anchor but I enjoyed only Coca-Cola as I had such a big lunch. Dinner tonight was good, I ordered: Crispy Bacon Salad with Chicken (a new item and that’s what it was called…I think they lost something in translation), Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, Costeleta’s de Porco a Salsicheiro (pork chop), and Pudim Molotof for dessert.  Pork and dessert very different and very good.  I went on a walk about and also picked up a photo from Photo Department before retiring for evening.  I needed to update blog and review some NCAA football scores.  A very good day on PEI and the MSC Meriviglia.

Sunday  October 13  /  Sea Day  /  Day 6
My cabin - 13250
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. We turned our time back one hour for the final time…we are now on Eastern standard time…same as our final ports of Quebec and New York City.  I was up early and went to the MDR about 8:00 am for a nice breakfast.  Our group had our annual  Champagne party at 10:00 am this morning outside on the aft of deck 15.  The sea air was very nice.  I contributed three bottles of Prosecco I have collected on the prior cruises. We moved it indoors at noon and ate lunch in the Marketplace buffet.  They had a very nice roast beef at the carving station so I got buns from the fresh burger area and had a very nice Roast Beef Sandwich with fresh french fries.  It was very good.  I spent time in the Sky Lounge and Bar and had a couple of Raul’s nice cosmopolitans as I watched the St. Lawrence entry narrow and narrow, you can certainly see land on each side of the ship now. It’s also gotten cooler although I watched two girls jump into the main pool while I was up in the Sky Lounge. I met friends at the Brass Anchor just after 4:00 pm and enjoyed some Stella Artois beer and conversation. I happened upon the Beverage Manager on the way back to my cabin and confirmed that he was the one who sent me a gift of the Beverage Coupons … thank you.  I know they are again making some changes and I always liked the vouchers so I hope that they come back in the new drink packages or in the Fantastica bookings.  Tonight is Elegant night so I prepared for dinner, very few guests that wear formal now days, most just dress nicely. Dinner was good, I ordered: Arugula and Grana Padano Salad, Pappardelle with Sea Scallops, Oven-roasted Beef Prime Rib, and Ice Creme for dessert. All very nice.  So lucky to have a good wait team too. My usual routine after dinner, but I went right to sleep earlier than norm.  It was a nice sea day with friends on the MSC Meraviglia. 

Monday  October 14  /  Quebec Canada  /  Day 7
Calm water overnight and I slept very well.  I ordered room service breakfast and it was delivered on time.  The three Danish and two Fruit Plates were perfect.  Our meet time for out tour was 8:45 am and we have eleven on the excursion: Grand Exploration of Quebec.  We were off just after 9:00 am and basically jus drove 3/4 blocks across the boulevard to Old Town Quebec,  totally amazed with the original building and restorations to the 17th century.  Beautiful original square with the Palace Royal and the old Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires surrounded by Shoppes, Boutiques, Bistros, and much more.  Just a block away is the La Fresque des Québécois or Quebec City Mural. What a wonderful way to show the history of Quebec but through this huge mural incorporating the past with the modern day.  We re-boarded our bus to go up to the Place d’Armes and scenic overview of the old city…very nice.  We then walked over to the Le Château Frontenac for our rest stop, first class rest stop at that.  The Château Frontenac is the huge hotel dominating the skyline of Quebec City and is a very nice hotel.  Then the bus drove by the Parliament House and fountain on the way to the Plains of Abraham were the famous battle between the French and British took place in 1759.  We had couple of photo stops here.  We then off to some of the outlying areas to visit.  We drove to Beaupre Quebec to visit the Shrine of Sainte Anne du Beaupre.  The Basilica here is the third largest church in North America as well as the oldest pilgrimage site.  I have to admit that I was unaware of this and found it both interesting and educational.  Our bus drew the short straw on lunch break but we were now on our way to the Isle de Orleans for our 2:00 pm lunch at Ralais des Pins what was originally an old sugar shack used to collect Maple Syrup.  It was a very nice lunch of Vegetable Soup, choice of Chicken Breast with Maple sauce or a nice Salmon plate, and simple dessert.  I would have eaten anything by this time.  The island is home to many farms and busy this Monday holiday selling Pumpkins and Apples to locals from Quebec City and area.  Some beautiful fall foliage here.  Our final stop was Montmorency Falls.  A recreational Park featuring large waterfalls and activities.  We arrived back at the pier about 4:30 pm along with dozens of other tour buses.  Most on the buses returned to the ship and long lines, some of my group had other evening tours, myself a few others chose to go the few blocks to Old Town.  We revisited the Old Square and the Mural and found a great spot at Bistro Sous le Fort to enjoy drinks while others shopped.  The guys drank the local Belle Gueule beer, we even ordered the local Poutine as well as plain petit frites.  The Poutine was different, but I will stay with the plain version of fries myself.  We did begin to get a shower so headed back to the ship.  We found a direct entry and gangway and there was no one in line…we walked directly into the deck 5 lobby, my old ‘living room’.  We were in time for 8:00 pm dinner but I had a beer in the Brass Anchor then switched to Coca-Cola to finish off the day.  I took some cokes to the cabin and made some brief notes of the day but retired early…I was long-day tired.  It was a fantastic day in Quebec, I hope to return.

(Photo: I had great photos today, but went with the La Fresque des Québécois' composite photo -click it to enlarge- as it shows all three major sites in old town…I’ll post my photos on FB)

Tuesday  October 14  /  Quebec Canada  /  at Sea  /   Day 8
My balcony view - Cabin 13250
This was originally a Quebec day, but changed due to needed earlier arrival back in NYC so we sailed about 1:00 a.m. this morning. (Guests received a $50 OBC for this before we even left NYC)  I slept very well but was up at 7:30 so went up to the Sky Lounge to whale watch as we were in the prime area for whales…the ship has slowed to under 10 knots as required in this area. I had a light breakfast but sat on port side with a watchful eye out.  Best weather of cruise on the sunny side of the ship, so I had balcony time most of the day.  I did get my refund on my cancelled Cirque show then went to the casino and lost $9.34, but I cashed out with $250 from my ship account. Then I went up to the MarketPlace for a custom Turkey Sandwich (turkey from carving station, bun & mayo from burger station) and ate it on aft deck, it was cooler there than my balcony.  I had an ice creme from ice creme bar on pool deck and took it back to my balcony.  The wind is blocked so still very nice all afternoon.  Nice to have a day to enjoy it. I used my iPhone for internet and made some phone calls since were sailing the St. Lawrence River and so close to land all day…fine connections and saving time on my ship WiFi plan.


Saturday, September 21, 2019

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review - TransAtlantic


MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review
September 22, 2019

Just the Facts:

Ship: MSC Meraviglia
Captain: Roberto Leotta
Hotel Director: Guiseppe Pane
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark - Southampton, England - Belfast, No.Ireland - Reykjavik, Iceland - St. John, Canada -  Halifax, Canada - New York City, USA.

I’m cruising as a solo. This is my third of four consecutive cruises on the MSC Meraviglia, my 12th MSC cruise and my 149th cruise overall.  I do have several clients and new cruise friends sailing.  I am sailing 40 consecutive nights on board the Meraviglia. 

Sunday September 22  /  Embarkation  /  Copenhagen  /  Day 1
Copenhagen - Stork Fountain
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. This is another easy embarkation day as I’m already on the ship.  I woke very early and checked NCAA football scores and still have WiFi from previous cruise…so stayed up and took advantage of it setting up this new review and checking on business back home.  Beautiful sunrise today looks like it may be a much better day than last Sunday.  They have moved the breakfast MDR from Waves on deck 5 (so easy) to Panorama on deck 6.  Nicer room longer walk, but I was there just after opening at 7:00 am.  They also have NEW breakfast menus getting ready for the Americans and a Caribbean menu.  I can say I had the first Huevos Rancheros and the first Biscuit Benedict made on the Meraviglia.  They did well…no salsa on this ship though but I bet it’s added soon after arrival in Miami.  After breakfast I picked up my new sail card from Guest Services, then I did the attach payment to my sail card machine that’s uniquie to MSC.  Easy enough B2B embarkation…took 10 minutes.  I took the MSC shuttle (€14) into Copenhagen arriving by 10:00 am and few tourists in the Nyhavn area that early so I enjoyed walking the canal area.  I then took a one hour Canal tour with Stromma Tours and it was worth the premium price (95Kr). Very enjoyable in the perfect weather.  Afterward I walked the Stroget (pedestrian street) then back to the plaza between the Stork Fountain and Bishop Absalon to enjoy two very nice Tuborg Pilsner classic draft beers at Cafe Højbro.  Very nice sitting in the sun with a view of Copenhagen while enjoying a beer. I went back to the shuttle stop about 1:30 pm and was back on the ship about 2:00 pm. A very nice four hours in Copenhagen.  I went to the deck 15 Marketplace for pizza then back to cabin for some rest time. Dinner is now at 6:00 pm, but we didn’t get out any sooner, will discuss tomorrow.  Another new menu and tonight I ordered: New Orleans Seafood and Chicken Gumbo, Penne Pasta, Souvlaki (grilled lamb), and Galaktoboureko (Greek Custard Pie) for dessert.  I retired to take advantage of unlimited internet still from previous cruise.  It was a GREAT day in Copenhagen today.

Monday September 23  /  Day at Sea  /  Day 2
Child's Dream
Smooth seas overnight with just enough movement for a very enjoyable nights sleep. The bed is ideal and very comfortable. I have four nice pillows, two soft and two hard, so very adequate.  We turned our time back an hour to be on British Summer Time so now 6 hours off of Texas time.  I awoke about 7:00 am and purchased the unlimited Wifi package (€215) not cheap but something I need for business.  At 8:30, the designated time for my deck, I went to deck 16 to check in with British Immigration control.  A simple process and they kept our passports for leaving the EU…they will be returned to us in Iceland stamped.  Coincidence for me as that’s where I entered the EU on my flight. I went down one deck to the Marketplace buffet for breakfast, I do prefer the MDR.  I walked out on the wet deck to check the weather…we are getting some rough waves   due to Tropical Rainstorm Humberto.  I was told that getting out of Southampton may be tough tomorrow.  I had lunch in the Panorama simply because the TV MDR menu listing said Floating Island was a dessert choice…it wasn’t…due to the new menus.  I had a nice MSC Specialty Burger and Boston Creme Pie.  They were good. Internet working well through the stormy weather.  I had a nice time at the Brass Anchor with friends today…two for one specials on Stella Artois…a great deal.  Relaxed in cabin before going to dinner. Tonight I ordered: Asian Salad, Rigatoni Meatballs, Duck A l’Orange, and Crepe Suzette for dessert.  A very good and filling dinner. I'm doing the R&R thing tonight and retired to cabin early.  It was a great sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Tuesday September 24  /  Southampton, England  /  Day 3
Winchester Cathedral
Rolling Seas overnight as we passed through the rain front in the early hours.  I slept well and got around after 8:00 am.  We arrived not long afterward although not scheduled until after 10:00 am.  I had breakfast in the MDR, eggs were cooked perfectly.  Lots of transition again, guests getting off, new ones arriving for the transatlantic, long tours to London meeting & leaving, so very busy on deck 5.  My excursion is not until afternoon so I’m just observing the morning activity.  I went up to the Marketplace buffet for Pizza, it was very good.  I then went to the Theater to meet my excursion for the day.  Excursion: Winchester & Wolvesay Castle.  We have lucked out with the weather, I think we will be good in my area.  We were off about 2:00 pm. Less than an hour to Winchester and we parked just off the high Street and walked through a beautiful pathway along the river to the Wolvesay Castle ruins. The original palace on the site was built around 970 by Æthelwold of Winchester on a piece of land known as Wulveseye or Wulf's island, an eyot in the River Itchen east of the cathedral.  I really need to re watch the BBC/Netflex series The Last Kingdom, the timeline took place here when this area was first built.  We then went to the historic Winchester Cathedral just ducking inside just before a rain.  The cathedral was founded in 642 on a site immediately to the north of the present one. Now Winchester Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of England in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral. Lots of very early Kings are buried here as is Jane Austen, noted English Author.  I really enjoyed my visit to this area of England that I have never been before today. PHOTO above: Entry to Winchester Cathedral taken from the War Memorial immediate front left.  We arrived back at the ship about 6:15 pm and it took 15 minutes to get through security and on board.  I was surprised at how many new guests were still boarding that late.  I went strait to the MDR and of course I was allowed in the near empty MDR as 50% of guests were still still not back on board.  We don’t sail until 10:00 pm.  I was only one at my table, my friends did the long London excursion today.  Dinner was great, I ordered: Vol-au-vent (Porchini Mushrooms Rago), Crispy Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad (iceberg & tomatoes), Herbed Rack of Lamb, and a nice Costeletas de Porco a Salsicheiro (Grilled Pork Chop).  Just a Fruit Plate for dessert tonight.  Watching the late arrivals after dinner…wow a busy day for the crew with so much going on…It was another great excursion day on The MSC Meraviglia.

Wednesday  September 25  /  Sea Day  /  Day 4
Opera in the Afternoon
Angry seas overnight, but I slept very well. I woke about 8:30 am and checked weather and ship position…we’ll be in for a roller coaster ride today. I went up to the Marketplace intending to just eat some fruit, but when you see bacon you get bacon.  I did sit outside facing aft and watched the high waves, it was fine out of the wind, pleasant in fact.  I watched as we passed the Lizard point southern most place in England, soon we’ll be sailing north into the Irish Sea and hopefully better weather.  I went up to deck 15 for Pizza about 2:00.  Pizza is to MSC what Guy’s Burgers is to Carnival.  I again sat outside and we are actually rolling more now than this morning.  We are now going north towards Belfast.  At 3:00 pm I attended the Opera sow in the Theater…it was packed.  About nine selections of classic songs from popular operas.  Enjoyable show I’d go again if they do it.  I went to the Lobby for my complementary ‘Welcome/Captains night cocktails.  Thanks MSC.  Then to dinner at 6:00 pm.  Great dinner tonight, I ordered: Eggplant Parmesan, Homemade Lobster Ravioli, Beef Tournedos, Florida Key Lime Pie, and Coconut Tapioca Pudding.  One of the better dinners of the trip.  After dinner I walked about deck six then retired to the cabin.  I worked on dining for the Canada cruise group as the have again moved our dining time up to 5:45 pm…just can’t do that early.  BTW-many more dress for formal night than previous two cruises.  More experienced cruisers on a transatlantic I believe.  It was a great but rocky Seaday on the MSC Meraviglia.

 Thursday September 26  /  Belfast, United Kingdom   /  Day 5
Belfast City Hall
Smoother seas overnight than yesterday and I slept very well.  Woke and prepared to catch shuttle into Belfast, but it was really raining, I waited a bit and went up to deck 15 and still a light rain so ate a small breakfast in the Marketplace.  A break in weather about 10:00am so I took the shuttle into Belfast and very glad that I did.  Stopped first at the Belfast City Hall, a beautiful old  (1906) building with a great museum, toilets, WiFi, and nice Tea Room.  The girl even fixed a glass of ice for my Coca-cola.  The memorial to those lost on the Titanic from the citizens of Belfast is on the grounds as well as a monument to Queen Victoria. I walked around the area and then went to the famous Kelly’s Cellar Pub, oldest licensed pub in Belfast.  Just what you would imagine in a traditional Irish pub down to the fireplace by the entry. I even enjoyed an Irish Stew along with my beer.  I really enjoyed the place.  I found some Kerry Gold Shortbread, the only item my dear wife requested from this trip, and a souvenir magnet and I was really good for the day.  I had one more pub I wanted to see but the MSC shuttle location was so nearby it grabbed me on the way so it was back to the ship for me.  Really glad we caught the break in the weather as I really enjoyed the time in Belfast.  Rest and some blogging back at the cabin until dinner time. First dinner at our new 5:45 pm time.  Tonight I ordered: Beetroot Carpaccio, Seafood Linguine, Couscous Moroccan-Style (lamb), and a selection of desserts.  Very nice dinner. A walk about the ship, very busy withs guest out and about, then retired for evening.  It was a very nice day in Belfast and on the MSC Meraviglia.

Friday  September 27  /  Sea Day  /  Day 6
Making mozzarella cheese on MSC Meraviglia
Still high seas and I slept very well.  We turned our time back one hour so we are now five hours ahead of Texas time.  I slept in as long as I could and enjoyed the rocking.  I sat on deck 15 aft and drank some juice for breakfast enjoying the wake of the ship, guests have been seeing dolphins today.  I walked about the ship and sat with friends for a bit in the Solarium and we spotted a big pod of dolphins on port side.  I went to lunch in the Panorama dining room just after noon.  I ordered: Chefs Salad, Filet of Sole, and Boston Creme Pie.  I don’t usually order fish, but this was fine although I would have expected some lemon or similar with it.  Service was slow and I received Cheesecake not Boston Creme Pie, but what can you do?  In future I’ll go back to sit down breakfast and have pizza for light lunch…it’s the new early dining time that is throwing me off my routine. PHOTO: Where do they get the great mozzarella cheese they serve on the MSC Meraviglia?  They make it themselves!  I was able to do some end of 3rd quarter business before we basically lost the WiFi for the afternoon.  I did go up to deck 18 and enjoy the Sky lounge and a mojito for an hour,  it was nice up there, perfect for cocktails on next cruise.  Dinner before 6:00 is hard for me to adjust to but service was excellent tonight.  Tonight I ordered: Ražnjići (Balkan lamb & pork skewers), Panzanella Salad, Chicken Cordon Blu, Moussaka, and a Fruit Tartlet for dessert.  A very good and filling meal.  I had time to make the first show of tonight's entertainment in the Theater: Speakless.  It’s a pantomime show, interesting, some guests really laughed, some not impressed.  Just as the art of a mime.  After the show I retired for the evening, still no internet, but that can happen in the middle of the Atlantic.  It was a fun, but different kind of day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Saturday  September 28  /  Reykjavik, Iceland  /  Day 7
Strokkur Geyser at sundown
Again rolling seas overnight, but I slept very well until 8:15 am in fact. Just as well as no WiFi.  I  went to breakfast in the Panorama restaurant (MDR) about 9:00ish.  I ordered the Huevos Rancheros but customized them since I knew what was coming, they were great with the extra egg, bacon, & potatoes.  I went to the cabin and replaced my British Sterling with Icelandic Kroners in my wallet and prepared for our big tour today.  Mad rush to exit when we arrived at the pier.   I have a group tour I organized with the Gateway to Iceland group and we got off about 2:30ish.  We found our driver and small bus in good order and our group of 18 were off on our big Iceland adventure.  Our driver/guide Gummie (goo-me) was great.  He took some back roads to our first major stop: Thingvellir, site of the World’s first Parliament (Alþingi) that met each year, beginning in 930 AD and continuing until 1798. The expansive National Park Þingvellir located in this area is a geological wonder as at this location two tectonic plates meet – the Eurasian and American plates.  We visited a viewing area of the rift or valley between the two where the actual Parliament was held. Area views of Laugarvatan Lake and the mountains is spectacular including the second largest glacier in Iceland: Langjökull.  Next stop was the beautiful Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland’s pride and one of Europe’s largest waterfalls. I love waterfalls and this was amazing and I was very surprised at the size and volume of water flowing.  Third stop is the Strokkur Geyser, a very active geyser that erupts about every six minutes.  Very impressive.  We even saw where locals cook their bread in the ground in the thermal areas.  The final major stop was the Secret Lagoon, the hot springs nature bath. Locals named it that way because it had only been known to few, up until recently.  It was fantastic relaxing in the hot water of the natural pool while enjoying a nice beer (or three) with friends.  An amazing experience to do in the evening hours and we enjoyed our full hour in the water.  It was unusual to see the life guards fully bundled in Parkas, gloves, and heavy cold weather gear while we were in the warm pool waters.  Very different.  We then drove to Selfoss to dine at Krisp, a highly rated local restaurant.  I had an Icelandic specialty: Lamb Tenderloin with Potatoes and Bernaise sauce.  It was outstanding.  The dessert was just what we all wanted: The Northern Lights.  When walked out of the restaurant there was a beautiful display of the Aurora Borealis. Amazing. As we drove back to Reykjavik we stopped in the dark countryside for a 360 degree panorama of the night sky with various lights in the sky entertaining us.  What a climax to an already wonderful day.  We arrived back at the ship just after midnight and it was straight to cabin and bed for me.  A long amazing unbelievable day in Iceland.  Click on links for or information. 

Sunday  September 29  /  Reykjavik, Iceland  /  Day 8
Hallgrimskirkja and Leif Erickson
We over nighted here and I was up too early, but afraid I’d oversleep our meet time, so stayed up and had a light breakfast.  Our group met at 8:30 and no problem getting off ship so we were outside at the same time our bus and driver arrived.  We were off on day two ahead of schedule.  We started with a very nice panoramic drive through the city of Reykjavik, very easy on an early Sunday morning.  We saw the old fishing harbor that is more the HQ for tourist boats  doing whale watching, harbor tours and bird adventures now.  We also saw: the city center, old town, the Sun Voyager, and much more.  We stopped an old church and directly behind was the President of Iceland’s House, no guards or fence, very accessible to all.  We left the city and started our Reykjanes Geopark tour.  The major sites were:  Reykjanes peninsula & driving through lava fields…lots of lava fields, Kleifarvatn Lake, Krýsuvík geothermal area, the Fishing town Grindavík where we had a nice lunch—fish & chips for me, the Brimketill lava cliffs, Gunnuhver steaming mud pools, Reykjanesviti Lighthouse & bird cliffs, and a view of The Bridge between the continents.  I've never seen so many lava fields...enough for a lifetime.  An amazing tour and we had beautiful weather all day.  We were blessed.  Back towards civilization we stopped to see a Viking long boat, and our final stop back in Reykjavik at Hallgrimskirkja a modern cathedral, consecrated in 1986, inspired by Icelandic traditions with a 73m-high tower.  The statue of Leif Erickson stands here as well.  We returned to the ship just after 4:00 pm and our group of tired but well contented friends said our farewells to Gummie.  No time to rest once on board, so I made notes and the MDR for early dinner.  It was a Spanish menu tonight and I ordered: Andalusian Gazpacho, Ensalada Catalana, Cocido Madrileno (stew with beef and sausage), and two desserts.  Other options were: Paella, Spanish Omelot, or Tapas. A nice dinner. I retired afterward and went fast asleep after two busy days.  Another wonderful day in Iceland.

Monday  September 30  /  at Sea  /  Day 9
Capt. Roberto Leotta & Senior Officers
I woke about 4:30 am and knowing how spotty the WiFi has been on the ship moved back the time one hour and began updating my blog.  I spent four hours updating, getting news, and football scores. MDR now open for breakfast so I enjoyed a very nice 3-egg breakfast with fruit plate. I received an invitation to a small little gathering at 10:30 am so attended that in the Sky Lounge.  It was very nice and the Captain attended and we discussed the last time I had sailed with him on the Carnival Sunshine in February 2014. Small world. Afterward I finally got back to the cabin for a early nap.  I woke about 2:00 pm feeling good and did a walkabout around the ship.  It had clouded up and a bit of mist out on outer decks, we were lucky with the weather in Iceland.  It was elegant night dinner tonight, many guests were dressed nice and a few were in t-shirt and bluejeans…very eclectic group. Tonight I ordered: Arugula and Grana Padano Salad, Oven Roasted Prime Rib of Beef, Roast Pheasant, and Baked Alaska for dessert.  It was very good. I was able to finalize the seating for the Canada group tonight, so glad I did as they are changing times earlier again, but we will have 8:00 pm dining and I'm good with that time.  I attended the show in the theater, it was Opera with four singers called Song’s Over the World.  Very entertaining, I met one of the singers in Belfast.  Internet was a little better, but the ship offered a selection of good complementary movies on the TV today.  It was a nice easy sea day on the MSC Meriviglia.

Tuesday  October 1  /  at Sea  /  Day 10
Loyalty Club reception
Fair seas overnight and I slept well. We again set our time back an hour so we are only three hours off Texas time.  I woke up about 7:00 am. and feeling well.  I went to breakfast in the Panorama, the Huevos Rancheros has changed for the third time, now it’s just chili in a tortilla. Again I ordered what I really wanted on the same plate and it works very well. I had a nice table with German guests at center aft windows.  I assume they will get salsa when they get to NYC (get a rope), I know they will be getting Coke products then.  They delivered our passports back to us this morning, so nice to not have to go stand in a line again to retrieve them.  Thanks MSC.The Loyalty Club past guest welcome cocktail was held at 11:30 in the Galleria I actually stayed this time and glad I did.  A lot of people and a lot of champagne flowing.  Most impressive to me was the review of earlier MSC ships, no movie, we’re talking about ships sailing across the ceiling on the huge LED screens.  Impressive.  I’m seeing friends and clients all about the ship today.  I also had my first gelato on the ship today:  Rum Raisin & Dulce De Leche double dip.  Excellent.  After my nice nap I picked up a photo taken of me and the Captain yesterday…thank you MSC.  It was French night at dinner tonight, I ordered: Provençal Salad, Vol-au-vent, Blanquette de Veau a l’Ancienne (stewed veal bites).  Other items available were: Moules Marinieres, Bouillabaisse, Vichyssoise, Coq au Vin, and more.  It was a nice meal.  I dis have an after dinner drink before retiring.  Looked like a lot of guests were ready ro participate in the White Night activities later this evening. It was a nice sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Wednesday  October 2  /  at Sea  /  Day 11
Mimma Barra-I Come from Italy
Rolling seas overnight and I slept very well.  I went to the MDR for breakfast about 9:00 am and ordered a Spanish Omelet + the usual items. They are getting ready for Americans as I noticed Grits on the specialty items menu.  I did a walkabout the ship…weather is chilly and a little damp…so very few braving it outdoors.  Good movie day with the complementary movies.  WiFi still poor but it may be as much weather related as well as location.   I went up to the Marketplace for Pizza and a salad-both Pizza locations open. Very busy inside today. I spent some time in the Brass Anchor this afternoon drinking Tiger pilsner beer from Singapore.  Spent some good time with my new friend Jan from Sweden discussing travel and our two countries.  I have been following our ships course, when I have internet, on the Marine Traffic website and at 4:30 today we were just off of Newfoundland, so the wide Atlantic is behind us and hopefully things improve with communications.  Always good to know there is land nearby…just in case.  It was Italian night in the Olivo D’Doro dining room (MDR). Tables and waiters looked good.  I ordered: Arancini Sicilian-Style, Tricolor Salad (red-white-green for Italian flag), Lasagna Bolognese, and Chicken Breast Parmigiana, a hearty meal with Tiramisu for dessert.  We had nice quick service so I was able to see the 19:15 show in the theater.  It was: Mimma Barra-I Come from Italy  billed as a special musical journey from Naples to New York City.  It was interesting.  I have tickets for Cirque Du Soleil this evening at 21:30 and was about to stand in line when friends came by and said “it’s cancelled”.  This has happened several times this cruise due to high seas.  I rescheduled for Friday.  Most venues pretty full this evening and I already had drinks today so I just retired to the cabin. It was a good sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Thursday  October 3  /  at Sea  /  Day 12
The Three Featured Female Production Singers
Obviously rolling seas if they canceled my Cirque Du Soleil last night, but the rocking makes for a very good sleep.  I was up and out at 8:00 am as I needed to check with Guest Services about the next cruise and there are no lines that early.  I have noted that there have been long lines on this cruise, I have no idea what business they have with GS, but I think more Europeans use a cash account because I see them frequently at the Account Kiosks adding money to their ship board accounts.  I had a hearty breakfast in the Panorama Restaurant and seated at a nice aft facing window.  Hot milk, orange juice, three small muffins, three eggs sunny-side up (best order to assure fresh eggs and to not be overcooked), bacon, ham, hash browns, toast followed by a fruit plate. Excellent food this morning as was the service. I had an invitation for the Black Card Party for 11:00 am in the Galleria formal attire, I assumed it was a mistake as that’s a very large space.  No mistake…it was the largest gathering of Black Card members in the history of MSC Cruises.  And this was a Black Card only event, sorry Gold members who had invitations on the previous two cruises.  They had hors d'oeuvres and more importantly complementary cocktails. I have grown accustom to the Aperol Spritzes.  It was impressive, with Irish Dancers and the senior staff and the Captain there for a toast on the overhead walkway.  Afterward I went by the Brass Anchor for a Perone beer, then a Pizza and Salad at the Marketplace, I did sit outside on the aft of deck 15.  Still cool but nice sunshine today.  More guests by the pool today too…it is a heated pool…that’s not common anymore on cruise ships. After seeing the number of Black Cards on board this morning I decided to make my reservation at the Steak House ASAP and did so for tonight.  Cabin time and nap first in the afternoon, then I went to the theater for the 19:15 showtime of : One More Day.  All the production singers and dancers perform popular Broadway hits. Best show of cruise so far, four new production singers this week and same two opera singers, results in better cast. (PHOTO: Opera singer on left, other two are the female production singers) I went to the Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse at 8:45.  I ordered the Tomato Soup as a starter, My usual NY Strip steak, Baked potato, Broccoli, and Ice Creme for dessert,  It was again great with very good service.  I retired for the night after that wonderful dinner.  It was a great sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Friday  October 4  /  Saint John, Canada  /  Day 13
Saint John old City Market
Smooth seas overnight finally and I slept well.  We were docked by 7:00 am so that Canadian Customs could review the Canadian Emigration Forms guests filled out a few days earlier. They called a few guests for interviews but we were cleared by 8:15 am.  This is much better than having all passengers having to go through customs. It was raining early too so worked out great.  I went to breakfast in the MDR while all this was happening and another good breakfast this morning.  I only have three major plans today starting with getting a haircut, getting a Lobster Roll at the old City Market, and meeting local friends @ 1:30pm.  I left the ship about 9:30 since the barbers opened at 10:00.  I went to a place called Quality Block Barbershop on Germain Street only a few very steep uphill blocks from the Cruise Terminal. They were already open and luckily one chair was available so I got a cut.  I was really really pleased with my haircut,  best one in many years…a Maritime Cut.  The weather had also cleared nicely by this time.  As I walked by the old Trinity Anglican Church I stopped in for a visit.  This was the church Loyalists from the America Revolution established.  In fact much of the City was founded by Loyalists. I walked through King’s Square before entering the Market. I love the Saint John old City Market, the oldest continous market in Canada.  I looked at all the stalls and spaces and then got a Lobster Roll from the Northside Fish Market.  It was excellent and I ate it there.  This was the L-R on a toasted bun…my favorite style.  I went across the road to Brunswick Square to look around and saw friends and we had beers at Pete’s Pub, an interesting place mainly because of Pete, a fellow Scotsman.  I then met another group of friends and some locals for a nice lunch and beers at Grannan’s Seafood a nice Restaurant in new Market Square.  I ordered another Lobster Roll, not as good as earlier, but served with fries and slaw.  It was good seeing local cruise friends.  After eating and visiting it was time to head back to the ship only a few blocks away.  Embark was easy and the ship had risen two decks from the tide.  I snapped a photo of the gangway upon leaving then on return.  The famous Bay of Fundy tides are amazing here.  It was actually soon time to eat again as we have early dining.  Tonight I ordered: Shrimp Cocktail, Beef Strips in Sauce, and Ice Creme for dessert. Simple but good.  I attended the mini version of the Opera La Boheme in the theater, this was a full production with dancers and opera singers.  It was good.  The way that the ship began to roll during this performance made me suspect that my Cirque Du Soleil show later this evening may be cancelled…and it was. Pretty busy next cruise so may not be a Cirque Du Soleil in my future, we’ll see.  After this news I retired to the cabin, updated this blog, and reviewed Halifax sights for tomorrow.  It was a very productive day in Saint John today.

Saturday  October 5  /  Halifax, Canada  /  Day 14
Happy Cake Day, Sandy!
The seas was smoother once we got out of the Bay of Funday and I slept well.  I woke about sunrise or 7:30am, to a very light rain but soon blue skies for rest of the day.  I went to the MDR about 9:00am and ordered three hot pancakes with bacon.  Still warm when they brought them and used the pure Maple Syrup given to me by my Saint John’s friends yesterday for a nice Canadian breakfast as we sailed into Halifax harbor.  Debark was delayed but I was in no hurry leaving the ship about noon.  Halifax is a great port to visit as there is so much within walking distance of the ship. Great Museums, Good food, Pubs, Shopping, and more. I walked along the harbor, took some photos, called home, bought a coca-cola, and was soon at the Dartmouth ferry station at the other end of the long Halifax harbor walk.  I saw friends and we ended up eating at the well known establishment Murphy’s on the Water, I had a Lobster Roll, but the fried Haddock looked very good too.  I did a walk about on the return back to the ship: pu to the Grand Parade and seeing St. Pauls Church, the Five Fisherman, the Old Town Clock, and ended up at the Red Stag Pub inside Alexander Keith’s Brewery to celebrate Alexander Keith’s 224th birthday.  I enjoyed the Alexander Keiths Highland Pils very much and use of the internet to watch some Sooner football.  Fun time.  Too soon it was time to walk back to Halifax pier 22 and the MSC Meraviglia.  Security went smooth and I walked right onto deck five reception or my ‘Living Room’.  Back just in time for dinner and everyone actually made it. Tonight I ordered: Seafood Gumbo, Spaghetti with Mussels, and the Steak au Poivre,  No dessert. It was a good meal. A magician is the feature entertainment tonight but I passed in order to review some NCAA football scores. Good day when the Sooners win.  It was a great day in Halifax.

Sunday  October 6  /  at Sea  /  Day 15
Galleria ceiling - Sistine Chapel
Final sea day of this long cruise.  Fairly smooth seas and I slept well.  We turned our time back one final time so that we are now on EST and same as our destination New York. I went to the MDR for breakfast about 9:00 am and sat with a couple from Perth who earned their Black Card the old fashion way…they earned it. They were already aware of the Price Matching for Americans…I wouldn’t have told them. I then went to pick up a ticket to be used for debarking tomorrow and U.S. Immigration.  Once off you can not re-board until all guests are off the ship. This will require some planning that I won’t finalize until I see tomorrows weather. And today is the prettiest weather and seas we have had the entire cruise…guests taking advantage on the outside decks.  I made my big gift purchases in the perfumery before they switch to dollars in New York, I’m pleased with my selections, but I had help from home.  I ate Pizza on the pool deck, nice weather and guests forget about the 3rd Pizza station so not busy.  I did see guacamole and salsa in the Marketplace so HAD to have some.  Reminds me of home.  I happened to see Ken from Florida, he has something to do with MSC-USA. I saw friends in the Brass Anchor, not as busy in there with the European guests out on deck, and enjoyed a Tiger beer.  PHOTO: one of my favorite ceilings in the Galleria: the Sistine Chapel.  Dinner was good tonight, I ordered: the French Salad, Currant-glazed Duck Breast, Beef Wellington, and Banoffee Pie for dessert.  Duck and Beef were very good.  I intended to go see the show Meraviglioso Amor as I enjoyed it on previous cruise, but I fell asleep waiting for showtime…I have to get off this early dining…doesn’t work for me.  I updated this blog and eventually did retire for the evening.  It was an interesting sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Monday  October 7  /  New York, USA  /  Day 16
Statue of Liberty - New York Harbor
High winds outside NY harbor overnight so we came in very early.  Many guests including my clients were up early and got great photos of the statue of Liberty and the high rises of NYC.  We were docked at pier 88 long before I got up and around about 8:00 am. I went straight to the MDR as it closed at 8:30 am, I tried the Eggs Benedict for only the second time…nope, they were just two hard boiled eggs on a muffin. So far I’m 0-2 on Egg Benedict orders on this ship.  I stopped by GS to ask for an adjustment on the WiFi package, I doubt anything becomes of it, I did use it but forgot to emphasis that only between 3:00 am and 6:00 am when it had some speed.  Like internet on the ranch under HughesNet. Everyone must clear customs today, but once you did you could NOT return to the ship until everyone was cleared.  So options are a long tour or what I did…just wait awhile.  After breakfast I took my iPhone and MacBook up to the deck 7 picture windows where I used my own network to get the internet.  Got a lot of much needed business done in about an hour and a half.  No excuse for the ship network to be so bad from this location.  My only plan for the day was to take the Circle Line deluxe New York Harbor 2.5 hour tour ($44). It leaves at 1:30 pm from pier 83 so very close to the ship.  I debarked about noon and I was there in 15 minutes and purchased my tickets.  I had time to have telephone time with the DW in Texas before we began boarding about 1:00 pm.  I remember doing this tour when I was 10-11 years old…I think I enjoyed it more now.  The skyline is so impressive from the harbor, the bridges are amazing passing under them, but the most spectacular thing is the view of the Statue of Liberty.  Only way to really see it and it’s spectacular.  We returned about 4:00 pm so I had time to return to the ship and make early dining.  I missed lunch today so I was ready for a hearty meal and got it.  I ordered: Gourmand Salad, Adriatic Sea Risotto, Roasted Pork Loin with Herbs, All-American Meat Loaf with Mushroom gravy, and Lime Pudding for dessert.  All excellent although I should have ordered the Peanut Butter Pie for dessert.  Fantastic that MSC schedules overnights in interesting ports...two on this cruise.  Of course Mondays are when most theaters in New York are dark, but still lots to do in the Big Apple, very temped to walk to Times Square after dinner, but decided against it.  Many guests were out as the MDR was only  a little over half full.  I had a Coca-Cola from the Infinity Bar…yes they did stock it in NYC as promised.  Yea!  I the retired to the cabin to update this blog and prepare for my final B2B2B2B cruise tomorrow.  It was a very nice day in NYC and on the MSC Meraviglia.

Ship
Maiden Voyage: 2012  I  Gross Tonnage: 139,400 tons
Passenger Capacity: 3959  |  Crew: 1325  I  Length: 333 meters
Max Cruising Speed: 27 knots  I  Avg Speed 23 knots
Installed power: Diesel (40,000kW)  I  Propulsion: Twin propellers
Godmother: Sophia Loren

Ports

Weather wasn’t very cooperative this cruise, always more of a chance of that on a northern Atlantic crossing.  Iceland was unique in that we had nice weather there and one would think opposite.  Either rainy or cold or both in all the other ports and many sea days.

Cabin

Final cruise this time for cabin 5097 a port side forward interior located on deck 5. Only a few guest cabins on this deck as the lower Atrium deck (mid ship) and the Main dining Room (MDR) -Waves Restaurant are all located on deck 5.  The cabin is just one deck below Theater, Galleria, & Main dining rooms, and one deck above the port gangway.  A great location. It is somewhat spacious cabin for an interior.  It has a push button safe, twin/queen beds, two night stands, wall lighting at bed, a small refrigerator, seat at dresser/desk, and TV with interactive features.  There is a large wardrobe with two drawers upper shelves and large hanging area with two doors.

Crew
The GS (Guest Services) staff is very friendly and nice. I see them each morning as I leave my cabin.  Our MDR waiter Julius is very efficient. My cabin steward was wonderful. Overall the crew is more friendly than the old MSC.  Most cocktail servers and bartenders provided very good service. Officers very friendly and helpful.  Everyone very friendly to me since I've been on board so long

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
Entertainment is the strong suit of MSC with very nice production shows and live music in most all venues. Cirque Du Soleil is a unique special show and you do pay a premium for that venue. In addition to the production shows they have ‘fun’ events scheduled every night in the various lounges. Also the Dome shows in the Galleria each night. The MDR dinners are good to very good, Buffet food is good to excellent depending on selections. The Marketplace pizza station, bread station, and salad bar are excellent. The MSC Meraviglia has some very beautiful lounges and bars with live entertainment, I tried to visit most. My favorites were the Infinity Bar and the Brass Anchor this cruise

Black Card
— I received a dinner in a specialty restaurant, a Chocolate ship, two Cocktail Parties, Champagne & Chocolate strawberries, a logo gift of a travel bag, a photograph, and more.   Good program.

Highlights of the Cruise

Private Iceland Tours (by far)
Saint John and Halifax days in Canada
Day in Copenhagen
Winchester Day in England
Circle Line Tour of NYC
Butchers Block Steakhouse
Breakfasts and Dinners in Panorama and L’Olivo d’Oro dining rooms
Black Card Benefits






Saturday, September 14, 2019

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review - Baltic


MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review
September 15, 2019

Just the Facts:
Ship: MSC Meraviglia
Captain: Roberto Leotta
Hotel Director: Guiseppe Pane
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark - Helsinki, Finland - St. Petersburg, Russia - Tallin, Estonia - Kiel, Germany -  Copenhagen, Denmark.

I’m cruising as a solo. This is my second of four consecutive cruises on the MSC Meraviglia, my 11th MSC cruise and my 148th cruise overall.  I do have some clients and new cruise friends sailing.  I will have sailed 40 consecutive nights on board the Meraviglia. 

Sunday September 15  /  Copenhagen  /  Day 1

Floating Island dessert
Smooth sailing overnight. I was up periodically checking NCAA football scores…Oklahoma’s game was at 2:00 am Central European Time.  I was up for the day about 8:00 am and went by Guest Services to pick up my new Black Sail Card for this cruise.  So easy when doing a B2B in the EU as no waiting to do the customs thing as in the USA, you just go pick up your new card.  I had a nice breakfast with a large table of German guests most leaving the ship today.  I did have to go by and register my credit card to my sail account since I have a new card.  Easily done and there is a machine by my cabin corridor.  Then to the cabin to watch the highlights of the OU vs. UCLA football game.  The Sooners did well, but I knew the score at 3:00 am and was confident it would hold up through the game.    It’s rather cool and windy today and I’ve decided not to try to go into Copenhagen today, just stay on board and enjoy the ship.  I went on a walkabout so that my cabin steward could clean the cabin and when I returned I had a clean cabin and Champagne, deluxe fruit basket, and a fruit bowl. Nice to feel like a VIP.  I had not had lunch in the MDR as yet so today I ate in Waves, the usual Breakfast restaurant, on my deck five.  I ordered: the Madison Salad (DW would like this), the Roast Veal in Rosemary Sauce, and the Floating Island for dessert.  So glad I took waiters recommendation on dessert, it was really special (poached egg whites floating on vanilla creme anglaise, caramel) and unique to me. Try it if you get an opportunity.  See Photo.  After lunch it was to the cabin for afternoon nap time.  Boat drill for those boarding today woke me from my nap, but it was still a nice nap.  Dinner was nice tonight, I ordered:  Lasagne Bolognese, the Oven Roasted Prime Rib of Beef entree, and Warm Apple Strudel with Ice Creme for dessert.  I retired soon after dinner tonight as I had some projects to finish since I decided to purchase the unlimited internet for this cruise.  A little business, but I’ll enjoy having the WiFi for news and sports too.  It was another good day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Monday September 16  /  Day at Sea  /  Day 2
Production Show: Way
Generally smooth seas overnight with a little more movement than previous nights.  Sometime early during the night I strained ligaments or pulled some muscles in my knee/leg and it was painful, could be the ACL.  Barely could hobble to the bathroom.  Nothing to do but hope it improved.  Only slightly better in the morning, I had to hop to the door to receive more goodies being delivered. Breakfast was out of the question, but at least I have fruit to enjoy this morning.  A hot shower and heat on the area helped, at least I could walk with a limp by lunch. I wanted to experience the Panorama Restaurant and had a nice table center at the aft windows.  Great view.  I ordered: Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls, the Club Sandwich, and Tropézienne for dessert. I sat too long and had to limp back to the cabin.  I discovered I was an hour off on time this morning, we are now on Helsinki/St. Petersburg/Tallinn time.  I knew we would change but overlooked the notice on the Daily Program.  I had a nap after lunch…nice I don’t do that at home.  I went up to the Brass Anchor for a couple of Stella Artois and ran into friends.  Dinner tonight was good, perhaps the best menu from last week.  I ordered: Tortelli as a starter, the Leg of Lamb entree, and rhe Choco-gianduja Sundae for dessert.  The entree was very good.  I did attend the production show tonight: Way.  Live orchestra, dancers, and feature singers preform various Broadway and show hits. They even had a can-can number for me.   I enjoyed the show very much.  I retired following the show and my leg/knee/back is much better. I hope it’s fine for tomorrow’s excursion in Finland.  It was a great Sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Tuesday September 17  /  Helsinki, Finland  /  Day 3
Helsinki Cathedral
Rolling seas in the Baltic overnight and I slept well and feel good.  I went to breakfast in the MDR about 8:30 am. and had scrabbled eggs for the first time.  You can get spoiled having bacon and fresh fruit daily…I’m enjoying it while I can.  I had a 10:30 meeting time for my excursion: Porvoo & Helsinki site seeing.  We had a full bus of English speakers and two other buses on the trip.  Porvoo is about 50 kilometres east of Helsinki.  It is an old city… one of the six medieval towns in Finland, first mentioned as a city in texts from the 14th century. The Porvoo Cathedral was built in the 15th century, although the oldest parts date from the 13th century.  It is a popular with local and foreign tourists as the old town is considered the most picturesque of any small town in Finland. The red warehouses along the river and old medieval buildings have been converted into shoppes, art studios, restaurants, tea rooms, candy operations, and more.  I had time to enjoy a wonderful local beer: a Malmgård dry hop Pilsner. (€8.5) Very Good beer and I met my new Finnish friend Tommy.  After a few hours the tour returned to Helsinki and we saw: Market Square, Esplanadi Park, Uspenski Cathedral, the Helsinki Cathedral, National Museum of Finland, and much more.  The bus stopped and all had opportunity to visit the Market Square area, but having done this area previously I hopped a Shuttle back to the ship.  It was a nice tour, but Parvoo is what I wanted to see.  I did take advantage of some fruit in my cabin as no lunch today then had time for the  2 for 1 special on Stella Artois beer at the Brass Anchor.  Have I mentioned that they have twelve beers on tap?  For dinner tonight I ordered: Tuscon Soup, Linguine with Shellfish as my pasta starter, the Grilled Beef Sirloin entree, and Arroz con Leche (cinnamon rice pudding) for dessert.  Our waiter Julis actually brought all the gentlemen two steaks on the entree plates.  He takes care of us…that’s why we had requested him again this cruise.  Lot’s to do and a big excursion tomorrow so I retired to the cabin after dinner.  It was a nice Finnish excursion and good evening on the MSC Meraviglia.

Wednesday  September 18  /  St. Petersburg, Russia  /  Day 4
I met Catherine, she was Great !
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. We were docked well before 6:00 am when I first woke. I went to the MDR for breakfast about 7:45 am about the same time they allowed guests off the ship. I gathered my Russian rubles and passport and met friends to get our excursion numbers about 9:30.  I believe it was the most popular excursion today: City Tour & Hermitage with lunch. We had a good bus only about 36 folks.  The tour basically went strait to the Hermitage as we had 11:00 am entry tickets.  We had a pretty intense tour lasting a bit over two hours. Our guide was good about avoiding other groups, we only got trapped in a room once.  We saw the original Winter Palace including the Grand Staircase, Audience Chamber, Grand Halls, and former Private Chambers.  Our guide must have been an art major as she got us to various art collections and masterpieces including Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, Penitent Magdalene by Titian, Saint Peter and Saint Paul by El Greco, The Lute Player by Caravaggio, Self-Portrait by Anthony van Dyck, and Danaë by Rembrandt,  We saw even more  classics including Frans Hals a personal favorite, and didn’t even get to the Impressionists.  I did see the very beautiful Palace Chapel that I had not seen in my previous visit.  Overall a very good tour of the Hermitage.  Following our tour we walked along the embankment a few blocks to a lunch provided to us in a former palace. Our group had our own dining area and it was nice,  I purchased a Russian Beer and Bottled Water & Vodka was provided to us as well as a nice Salad, Soup, a nice Chicken Cutlet entree, with ice creme for dessert.  It was a filling and very good lunch.  Next stop was the Church of the Spilled Blood, my favorite thing in St. Petersburg,  It is closed on Wednesdays, but it was just a photo opportunity on this tour anyway. I did run into some friends there, see photo.  We stopped at the Peter and Paul Cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress.  The tombs of the Czars located there are very interesting.  The rest of the tour was panorama with only two additional photo stops.  I think most were very happy with that as they were tired from the walking in the morning.  We saw: the Bronze Horseman, Strelka, the Admiralty Building, Alexander Column, the Nevsky Prospekt Avenue shoppes, and basically all the major buildings of central St. Petersburg.  We were returned to the Meraviglia about 6:45 pm so it was a long day,  It felt so good to have a hot shower and clean up once back in the cabin.  I made reservations at the steakhouse for tonight then I met with the Matre’D and finalized seating for my new clients boarding for the Transatlantic cruise next week.  I had time to go to deck 18 for a couple of cocktails in the Sky Lounge before another wonderful meal at the Butcher’s Cut steakhouse.  I ordered the Burrata & Beet salad,  The Choice NY Strip Steak with sides of Creamed Spinach & Potato Wedges, and Cheesecake for dessert.  It was a great visit to St. Petersburg and great dinner on the MSC Meraviglia on this long busy day.

Thursday September 19  /  Tallinn, Estonia   /  Day 5
Kadriorg Palace from visit two years ago
Smooth seas overnight and I slept off and on very well.  All the muscles and joints feel well considering all the activity yesterday.  However I have a slight cough and I don’t want to come down with a cold or sore throat so I decided to stay aboard ship today and rest  Tallinn is a great port stop as it has a walkable old town on two levels with historic medieval architecture and nice shoppes and interesting churches.  I really enjoyed it when I was here two years ago.  I slept in as long as possible and had a banana for breakfast, those fruit baskets have come in handy.  Booked a cruise for regular friends and did some other business while enjoying cabin time.  I went to the MDR about 12:30 pm for lunch and get a supply of water.  Americans automatically get a complementary water package if booked through MSC-USA but it’s only good in one of the MDR’s at lunch and dinner.  For lunch I ordered a Waldorf Salad, the Bismarck Hamburger, and Caramelized Banana for dessert.  It was very good. The rest of the afternoon was rest and recovery time.  I had a great nap. I had a delivery of sweets not sure what they are called, but I would call them a cake ball.  I looked at the time and it was 6:35 pm or dinner time.  I quickly dressed and was there in time to order, but I wasn’t last to arrive just by different accidental circumstances we were all late.  I ordered:  Aubergine Rolls Mediterranean-style, Herb-crusted Beef Tenderloin, and Baked Alaska & Coconut Mango Tapioca Pudding for dessert. My friends seemed to have a fun day in Tallinn. It is White Party night on board the MSC Meraviglia.  More guest dressing up for it this cruise. Keeping my R&R theme I retired to the cabin.  It was a restful day for me on board the MSC Meraviglia.

Friday  September 20  /  Sea Day  /  Day 6
Atrium
Smooth seas continue and I slept well overnight.  Still in R&R mode this morning so had some fruit from my fruit baskets this morning and continued to sleep as long as possible.  We turned back our clocks too so that allowed even more rest. My home remedies seem to be working so I cleaned up about noon then went to a nice lunch in the Panorama restaurant when it opened at 12:45 pm.  I had a table to myself and noticed that they had probably two dozen very nice two-top tables across the back windows.  I had a share table in center previously.  I think my clients will be very pleased with dinner arrangements next cruise.  For lunch I ordered: Sparkling Water, Seafood Cocktail, Caprese Salad, Mongolian Style Beef, and Nutella Creme Mille-Feuille.  Waiter brought a Pan-seared Fillets of Red Mullet, I knew as soon as he gave me the fish knife that he would bring the fish…but it was good.  A nice formal lunch.  It was now 2:00 pm and I knew friends would be meeting at the Brass Anchor so went by to visit for a while. I didn’t stay as I’m going to hold off until the Black Party this evening to drink.  R&R day.   About 5:00 pm I went up to the Sky Lounge on deck 18 for the MSC Black & Gold Party.    It was quite fun. I had my share of Aperol Spritzers.  There were more people than last cruise and the Captain didn’t attend but a nice room and the entertainer was a torch singer…my favorite genre of music. Guiseppe Pane was senior and he announced MSC’s plans for a Diamond level above the Black Card…interesting.  It was now time for our 6:30 dinner.  Very impressive when I walked into the MDR…new theme:  Mediterranean Night.  Nice new table runners, new uniforms for the waiters, and new menu covers all in a matching light green.  Great new menu items too, tonight I ordered: Nicoise Salad, Spanakopita, the Veal Ossobuco entree, and Turkish Baklava & Ice Creme Sundae for dessert.  All very good. Best dinner so far on the cruise.  I retired after dinner to update blog and get news. I didn’t want to push myself with such a fun evening.  It was a very nice sea day on the MSC Meraviglia.

Saturday  September 21  /  Kiel, Germany  /  Day 7
Eutin Castle Garden Facade
Again smooth seas overnight and I slept well. Feeling much better this morning too.  It’s a transition day here on the MSC Meraviglia and most of the passengers are leaving the ship today with more to board for the transatlantic.  My clients will board tomorrow.  The MDR was open very early so I had to get in before the 8:30 am close.  I had a nice three-egg and bacon breakfast.  I have an excursion today: Castles, Lakes & Roses I met in the group area at 8:45 am…soon we were off for shuttle that then took us to the tour buses.  Kiel port logistic are not simple.  I had a good bus and good seat and we were on our way to Plön, Germany.  First we toured the gardens and out buildings of Plön Castle then had some free time in the little village of Plön.  It was nice.  Then we stopped for our Five Lakes Boat trip.  Just before we boarded the weather broke and we had beautiful sunshine the rest of the day.  Best weather in two weeks.  I celebrated by enjoying two König Pilseners and the very pleasant one hour boat ride.  We were then take to the town of Eutin.  Here it was again a tour of the Castle Gardens, but I went for a park bench in a very beautiful setting for a nice rest.  Eutin Castle is surrounded by a moat and adjacent to a lake and the gardens I did see were old and beautiful. (PHOTO: above is actually the side view of Eutin Castle, but I love the reflection in the moat) The Castle itself was nice with great courtyard, would be ideal for a period movie set.  The group then went to the old town Square.  The guide tipped me off to the best craft beer so that is where I stopped for a Pils and some goulash to tide me over.  Both were very good.  We were returned to Kiel and the Meraviglia about 4:45 pm.  There were still lots of new guests waiting to board.  Boarding for us today as transits was very easy.  There will be a lot of Germans on the transatlantic.  Dinner was unusual as they opened the doors at 6:00 pm and will be changing the times.  Also all three restaurants will now open at 6:00, that will slow service for all.  Should have left it as is IMHO.  But the menu is NEW, first of the more American and Caribbean style menus to come.  Tonight I ordered: Fire-roasted Tomato Creme Soup, Bay Scallops Ceviche, Braised Beef Short Ribs (entree), the Rollo deCochinillo y Patatas Bravas entree (rolled pork), and Catalonian Creme for dessert.  A different variety and a good meal.  I did some shopping after dinner then to the cabin to use as much WiFi as I can as I go onto a new plan tomorrow.  It was an interesting transition day on the MSC Meraviglia and a great excursion day.  Tomorrow I begin the Transatlantic.

Ship
Maiden Voyage: 2017  I  Gross Tonnage: 171,598 tons
Passenger Capacity: 4500  |  Crew: 1536  I  Length: 1036 feet
Max Cruising Speed: 22.7 knots  I  Avg Speed 21.8 knots
Installed power: Wärtsilä Diesel (51,500hp)  I  Propulsion: Azipod
Godmother: Sophia Loren

Cabin
I have cabin 5097 a port side forward interior located on deck 5. Only a few guest cabins on this deck as the lower Atrium deck (mid ship) and the Main dining Room (MDR) -Waves Restaurant are all located on deck 5.  The cabin is just one deck below theater, Galleria, & Main dining rooms, and one deck above the port gangway.  A great location. It is somewhat spacious cabin for an interior.  It has a push button safe, twin/king beds, two night stands, wall lighting at bed, a small refrigerator, seat at dresser/desk, and TV with interactive features.  There is a large wardrobe with two drawers upper shelves and large hanging area with two doors.

Crew

The GS (Guest Services) staff is very friendly and nice. I see them each morning as I leave my cabin.  Our MDR waiter Julius is very efficient. My cabin steward was wonderful. Overall the crew is more friendly than the old MSC.  Most cocktail servers and bartenders provided very good service. Officers very friendly and helpful.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
Entertainment is the strong suit of MSC with very nice production shows and live music in most all venues. Cirque Du Soleil is a unique special show and you do pay a premium for that venue. In addition to the production shows they have ‘fun’ events scheduled every night in the various lounges. Also the Dome shows in the Galleria each night. The MDR dinners are good to very good, Buffet food is good to excellent depending on selections. The Marketplace pizza station, bread station, and salad bar are excellent. The MSC Meraviglia has some very beautiful lounges and bars with live entertainment, I try to visit most. My favorites were the Infinity Bar and the Brass Anchor this cruise

Black Card — I received a dinner in a specialty restaurant, a Chocolate ship, two private Cocktail Parties, Champagne & Chocolate strawberries, a logo gift of a travel bag, a photograph, and more.   Good program.

Highlights of the Cruise
St. Petersburg -- just the experience
Castles, Lakes & Roses excursion
Porvoo Finland
Butchers Block Steakhouse
Black Card Benefits