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.

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


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.


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.

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

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