Sunday, December 5, 2021

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review - 4 December 2021

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review

Just the Facts:
Ship:  MSC Meraviglia, first of its own MSC class @ 176,000 tons.
Sailing:  December 28, 2021 - 4 day cruise - Sailing out of Port Canaveral
Captain:  Masimiliano Rossi
Cruise Director: Sarah Rossi
Ports: Port Canaveral, FL - Nassau Bahamas - Ocean Cay, Bahamas - Port Canaveral

I am sailing solo on a Travel Agent Familiarization (FAM) cruise.  This is my 5th cruise on the MSC Meraviglia, my 14th MSC cruise, and my 168th cruise overall.

Day One -- Sunday --  December 5th, 2021 -- Port Canaveral  — Embarkation  
The day began early at the Florida Villa. It’s a fairly easy drive to Port Canaveral, but I have a 10:00 am Check-in Time so I was away about 6:45 am. This was only my second time driving to this port. I arrived at Cruisetime Parking & Shuttle ($40) on Merritt Island about 9:30 and as soon on a shuttle to the ship. I carried my rolling duffle as usual and was through Security, then Health Screening, and lastly the MSC Agent. My timing was perfect at all stations and I was in my cabin with my bag by 10:45 am. Amazing. I have a Balcony Cabin on deck 11, very comfortable for a solo cruiser. I unpacked and set up my cabin, an easy task for a short 4-day cruise. I went to the Market Place Buffet on Deck 15 for lunch. You have to show your Sail&Sign card to enter and they take your temperature as well. The staff serves you your food selections some of which are pre-plated so you do get a tray for your visit to the food stations. I had Roast Beef for the Carving Station with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, a Green Salad, a Cole Slaw salad, and a selection of small desserts. It was a very good lunch. I had cabin time to learn the WiFi system and the MSC for Me application then a walk about the ship in the afternoon. The layout has come back to me...they have a new Tex-Mex restaurant on the Promenade and a secondary buffet area and Dining Room are not open...only major changes I see. Of course, we are only sailing with 800 guests and they say that is up from 600 last cruise. Very empty so no lines anywhere nor waiting for an elevator. Now is the time to cruise on MSC! I did have a Pilsner Urquell beer from the Theater Bar on the lower promenade on deck 6...they didn't have any at the Pub. Boat Drill is different, you watch it on the TV then dial in a code on the phone from your cabin. You do have to go to your assembly area, but only to have your card scanned…then it’s completed. Better than Carnival's new procedure as you learn more yet just as easy.  The great thing was that on the elevator returning from my muster station there were two great friends from Scotland on it.  A great reunion for several decks. Wow!!  I did register my credit card at a kiosk for use on your S&S card...something unique to MSC that should be done on your first day.  We had a reception for the TA’s in our group in the Sky Lounge on Deck 18, wine & beer were served and we met Christina & the Events Manager.  I excused myself from our scheduled dinner and went to then Waves Restaurant in order to see my favorite head waiter (photo).  I had Julius as a waiter for 40 days on my B2B2B2B on the Meraviglia in Fall of 2019 before the pandemic.  It was great seeing him again as well as our previous Maitre’D Mario.  I had a great meal, it was a Spanish theme so I took the three items from that menu: Spanish Delights (Chorizo, Manchego cheese, Roasted red bell peppers, Olives, and Grilled Mushrooms), the Rollo de Cochinillo y Patatas Bravas entree (primarily roasted pig & potatoes), and the Crema Catalana dessert.  I also had the Bay Scallop Ceviche.  All were excellent as was the service of course.  I intended to meet my friends at the Silent Disco @ 11:00 pm but I closed my eyes when in the cabin and fell asleep.  It was a great embark day on the MSC Meraviglia.
Day Two -- Monday --  December 6th, 2021 -- Nassau, Bahamas 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  I went to breakfast in the Waves Restaurant and ordered Eggs Benedict with sides of Potatoes and Bacon, all were very good.  My Travel Agent seminar began at 9:00 am in the Business Conference Center on Deck 5.  It was interesting, time for me to start some new MSC group sailings.  I had a nice lunch in the Marketplace, no problems with the staff serving, they are efficient and you can ask for more or less of any item you choose. I had a lovely Salad, Roasted Chicken, Ratatouille, Potatoes, and a couple of the assorted mini desserts.  The afternoon session was good, the pricing structure of MSC fares have been streamlined and needed it.  My personal BDM was the presenter and it was nice to meet her.  We were taken on a nice tour of the Yacht Club at 5:00 pm.  It is much larger and improved since the Divina.  Very private area and basically a Boutique Hotel within a Cruise ship.  A beautiful Private lounge, Private Pool area, and Dining Room. Very nice.  I had a bottle of Prosecco and Cookies delivered so I relaxed on the balcony and enjoyed my own private sail away party from Nassau.  I then had a very nice evening, I went to Butcher’s Cut steak house for the best steak I have had in many years.  I ordered the Hearts of Palm Salad (with Avocado), the Filet Mignon, and the Cheesecake with Strawberries for dessert.  The four steak sauces were great and was the service.  I was very pleased.  I went to the Broadway Theater for the production show Meraviglio Amor, it was fantastic!  All in Italian.  I recognized several of the feature singers from 2019 and the new opera male lead was excellent. The final number was Con Te Partiro and it was Amazing!  A lot of activities on the ship and so easy to do a walk about with so few guests.  I returned to the cabin to rest and update this blog.  It was a good day and GREAT evening on the MSC Meraviglia.

Day Three -- Tuesday -- December 7th, 2021 -- Ocean Cay Marine Reserve,  Bahamas
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We arrived at Ocean Cay by 9:00 am but I’m no longer a beach nor beach games person so it not rushing anything this morning. I went to the Marketplace for breakfast at about 10:00 am. They have bacon and both scrambled and fried eggs available on the buffet. They decorated much of the ship for Christmas overnight...nice.  I did business work on the internet most of the morning then went for my first Pizza of the cruise for a late lunch. MSC is famous for the best Pizza at Sea and it was…Pepperoni and a Side Salad. I went to the island in the late afternoon and swam at the Lighthouse Beach. It was very nice and reminded me of Grand Turk. I didn’t tour the island, but I did go to the Lighthouse Bar, promoted as a ‘Hemingway Style’ bar. The architecture was a Key West or southern plantation shutter style with one photo of Hemingway, but there were NO Hemingway era drinks other than perhaps a Mojito. No live music when I was there. Good location for the sundown though. After sundown, a nice walk back to the ship, and I needed the exercise. I had dinner in the Waves Restaurant, with Julian of course. I ordered the Grilled Maryland Crab Cakes, Eleonor Salad, Breaded Chicken Kyiv, and the Tapioca for dessert. The crab cakes were amazing. Made a new friend, Prudence from South Africa, who is a Restaurant Manager and she and Julian convinced me to go ashore for the Party. I did go ashore at the right time to receive a lei and walk to the Village Bar in time to get a cocktail and see the beginning of the Junkanoo Parade. Small parade but nice, they had only one Indian but three female dancers and the musicians. It was worth seeing for sure. The Village Bar had live music and was nice. I saw my Scottish friends and made new friends then walked down to the beach for the Lighthouse light show and the Beach Party. It was very interesting. I made it back on board in time for the feature rock band, Off The Record’s show Uptown Funk in the Carousel Theater. They are a great band and a great show in a great venue. Maybe the best band at sea, but I’d love to see the Seagles in this venue. Sharing photos with friends before retiring. It was a most interesting day at Ocean Cay and on the MSC Meriviglia. 
Day Four -- Wednesday --  December 8th, 2021 -- Ocean Cay Marine Reserve,  Bahamas
We were docked overnight and I slept very well, best on a ship in a while. I went to breakfast in the Waves Restaurant and again had Eggs Benedict with Bacon and Potatoes. I did have my Hot Milk and Danish this morning as well as a nice fruit plate. Pru came by for her cruise story. I spent the entire morning updating this blog and working online…not planning on going ashore today. I did have some balcony time before going to lunch on the Lido deck: A Salad, Carved Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, & Snow Peas. The afternoon was cabin time, but busy not even time for the TV. I do appreciate that MSC has more television channels including sports and movies than most other cruises lines. I went to the theater for the production show WAY featuring different styles of primarily American Classic music (click on photo and check out the dancers in the background). Not as good as Meraviglio Amor but certainly worth seeing the feature dancers and singers. I then went to dinner in the Wave Restaurant and it was Italian night. As starters I ordered: the Venetian Pasta & Bean Soup, Sicilian style Arancini, and the Tri-Color Salad. My two entrees were: Lasagna Bolognese and Chicken Breast Parmigiana with Limoncello Cake for dessert…all Italian and all good. I went to the Carousel Theater at 10:30 for the 80s Disco show by Off the Record … they were good. I retired follow as it’s an early day tomorrow. An easy day for me on the MSC Meraviglia.

 Debarkation — Thursday --  December 9th, 2021 -- Port Canaveral
Smooth seas overnight. I woke about 6:00 am as we were entering the outer channel.  I then went to the Marketplace for breakfast.  Huge line to roll off express debarkation @ 7:30 am, but once started went quickly, no diamond express.  Shuttle for parking was ready and waiting.  I left the parking lot at 8:30 and arrive at the Villa in Pasco County at 11:00 am.  Very easy overall.

Personal HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruise
The Ship itself…A Beautiful Wonder.
Meraviglio Amor
Butcher’s Cut Steak House
Night Beach Party & Light show on Ocean Cay
Uptown Funk Show

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