Sunday, October 29, 2023

MSC Seaside Cruise Review -- October 29,2023


MSC Seaside Cruise Review  --  October 29,2023

Just the Facts:
Ship: Gross tonnage: 153,516. Launched: November 26, 2016. Capacity: 4,132 (double occupancy)
Captain:   Corrado Iaconis (Italy)   Cruise Director: Bennie Robinson (South Africa)
Ports: Port Canaveral, USA - Ocean Cay, Bahamas (overnight) - Costa Maya, Mexico - Cozumel, Mexico

I’m cruising as a solo on this 7-day cruise. This is my 3rd cruise on the MSC Seaside, my 19th cruise on MSC, and my 203rd cruise overall.  I do have Diamond (formerly Black Card) status, the highest of the MSC Loyalty Club levels. 

Sunday, October 29 / Port Canaveral / Embarkation / Day 1

I have a 12:00-12:30 p.m. assigned boarding time so planned accordingly and left the Florida Villa at about 8:45 a.m. for the drive to Port Canaveral. I arrived at Park-N-Cruise at about 10:45. A very efficient parking company I have used for years now and soon I was on my way to the port terminal. I arrived at Pier number 10 at about 11:40 grabbed my bags and went up one level to port security and through fairly quickly. They had a Diamond card line and I went directly to a check-in counter. Very smooth process this morning and I was able to go straight to my cabin arriving on Deck 12 at about 12:15 p.m. I have an interior cabin located very near the aft elevator/stairwell. It is very comfortable, especially for a solo (cabin photo below). Much better access to the Wardrobe than in a balcony cabin. The cabin has a Queen bed, Wardrobe, Large screen Television, a Counter/dressing table with mirror, a Small stocked refrigerator, Shelving, and drawers inside the wardrobe, a Chair, and a small but adequate bathroom with a solid glass door shower. I was able to begin setup and hang my clothes straightaway. I was fortunate as most guests were waiting for cabins to open as late as 2:00 p.m. There are two buffets: one on deck 16 and one slightly smaller on deck 8. I went to deck 8 as they had outdoor seating (although they were full of guests waiting for cabins). My traditional embarkation selection Roast Beef was excellent…very moist and flavorful. I also had a nice fresh salad from the salad bar. I ordered the premium WiFi package and the reception in my interior was good. I had a wee nap until they began Muster Drill announcements at 4:00 p.m. I have the earliest seating, 5:15 pm, in the Seashore Restaurant on deck 5 aft. I was assigned table 550 an eight-top for solo cruisers and we had seven attend. Interesting group of old timers, but I’m not good with the time. The tables are beautifully set with proper tablecloths and table service something you don’t see on many cruise ships. Dinner and service was very good. For dinner, I ordered the Tomato Basil Soup, a very nice Scallop Ceviche, and the Prime Rib with Baked Potato entree. For dessert a wonderful Crema Catalonia. After dinner, I spent time on the aft deck in anticipation of the 7:45 scheduled Rocket Launch from Cape Canaveral. It was delayed until 8:17 but scrubbed just 17 seconds before lift-off. Disappointing but the weather and breeze were very enjoyable. I had reservations for the 9:30 Variety Show but retired to the cabin. It was straight to bed and some TV after a very long and busy day.

 Monday, October 30th / Ocean Cay Marine Reserve / Day 2 

Smooth seas overnight just enough movement for a very enjoyable night's sleep. The bed is very comfortable with good pillows. I went to the MDR for breakfast and I ordered Eggs Benedict with a side of Bacon, & hash brown potatoes. I was served Hot Milk which is not always easy to get on other cruise lines but very common on the Seaside. The Captain had to do a sail-around on the first attempt at docking this morning, but he was then successful and we were docked at about 9:20 am. I went up to deck 16 just to get a good view of the island. The water here is beautiful and the Palm trees have grown since I was last here. This stop will only improve over time. After a walkabout on the ship and a snack from the buffet, I debarked from deck 4 onto the island. I decided to swim in the lagoon area as I had not done that previously. The water was great. There is plenty of beach area for the entire ship without being crowded. I enjoyed a few beers while relaxing in the perfect 85° weather. I returned to the ship just in time for my 5:15 p.m. dinner assignment. I did observe that four 8-top tables in our area of the MDR seemed to be solo tables for seniors…and they did have a solo fare for this cruise. The early time does make some sense for MSC. I still prefer later but going with the flow as it's good for theater show times. It was French night for me, I ordered a Niçoise Salad with Tuna as my starter and the Coq Au Vin as my entree. MSC now charges $5 for a second entree, but the Niçoise Salad is so rare to find it was well worth it. It was very good too much better than the Coq Au Vin. My dessert was again very nice, I had a light whipped Fruit Cream. I went to the Metropolitan Theatre to see the comedian Ken Boyd. The 7:30 show was a packed house and he was entertaining but confrontational so not my style. Afterward, I did a walkabout and refamiliarized myself with the ship since I did a B2B on her when the Seaside was new. A very nice ship, but I prefer the MSC Meriviglia. I soon retired to the cabin and watched some NFL football before sleep.  I will note that NFL football is highlighted on this ship.  Most every game is featured and most available in the cabin.  You can even reserve choice booths in the Sports Bar for games.  A nice day at Ocean Cay.

Tuesday, October 31st / Halloween / Ocean Cay Marine Reserve / Day 3 

Happy Halloween. I slept in and had a casual morning updating this blog and doing some online business with the first of the month tomorrow. I did a walkabout to see the newest Halloween decorations…mostly newly carved pumpkins everywhere. I had a very nice lunch at noon when the main buffet (hot) opened on deck 8. The Grill and Pizza opened earlier. I had: Chicken Breast, Snow Peas, Couscous, and Mashed Potatoes, with an assortment of Panne and Petit Fours for dessert (photo: cake at buffet), I ate on the outer deck and enjoyed the weather and view of the island. I decided to stay onboard and went up to deck 16 for a different view and also made a reservation at Butchers Cut Steakhouse. Then to the Seaview Lounge to relax and use my laptop during the afternoon. I again went to the MDR for early dinner…it was Caribbean-themed tonight. I ordered the Guadeloupe-style Shrimp Tails, the Creole Seafood Gumbo, the Blackened Red Snapper with Lime and creole spices, and key Lime pie for dessert. All was very good. I also had the special Halloween dessert a Pumpkin spiced Cake with Cheesecake icing. I had a walkabout to see the many guests in costume then I went early to the Metropolitan Theatre in order to get a good seat for the feature production show: Peter Punk. A typical MSC production with a theme, great costumes, and physical entertainment such as Acrobats, Jugglers, Contortionists, Singers, Dancers, and even a Dinosaur. Very entertaining. I say typical for MSC as they have a very diverse mulitl-language guest base. I made it back to the cabin in time to see the World Series game four. My Rangers are in it for only the third time. I had season tickets for many years before we moved to the Ranch in Bosque County. It was a great day on board the MSC Seaside.

Wednesday, November 1st / Day at Sea / Day 4 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. We also changed the ship's time to match our two Mexico ports. They delivered Prosecco, Macaroons, and Chocolate yesterday as a Diamond benefit so I will have macaroons for my breakfast snack. It’s a beautiful sea day, guests will enjoy the outer decks. At about 10:00 am I went to the Haven Lounge for the Diamond Reception. I walked in at 10:00 exactly and was the late, early crowd. They had small snacks on the tables and I was offered a selection of five drinks. No Hugos unless you paid. They had a saxophone player and a juggler before introducing the Captain and Hotel Director (photo). Nice event, but I took two Diet Coca-Cola from the bar and left early. I retrieved my laptop and spent some time on deck 7 at Bistrot la Boheme. Nice people-watching area while I work online. Also after the removal of the Halloween decor, you can see the three-level Waterfall in the atrium’s HD multi-screens. At about noon I went to the Buffet for lunch. I had a nice Salad and Pizza. My first Pizza of the cruise and excellent as usual on MSC. I sat out on deck 8 aft and enjoyed the view of the wake and blue seas. I lingered on the outer deck then returned to the cabin, with a few desserts, for a wee nap before dinner. I had a casual afternoon, considering some Trivia, but just relaxed. I went to the Butcher's Cut Steakhouse at 6:00 p.m. for dinner. A nice venue on deck 16 adjacent to the other premium restaurants on board. I ordered my usual favorites: the Burrata and Beet Salad, the Hearts of Palm Salad, and the Filet Mignon Steak with a side of Asparagus. The assortment of Breads and Steak Sauces were also good as was the service. Thank you, MSC. I made it back to the cabin in time for the first pitch of Game 5 of the World Series. It was a very tense and scoreless game until the 7th inning when Texas scored one run. Texas blew it open with key hits in the 9th and they won their first World Championship. Wow…a great night on the Seaside.

Thursday, November 2nd / Costa Maya, Mexico / Day 5 

From calm seas to rolling seas once we began approaching shore overnight and I slept well. We docked along with two Royal ships early. I went to the MDR for breakfast when it opened at 7:30 a.m. and it was busy. I ordered Mixed Fruit, Hot Milk, Danish, Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, and Toast. It was good once the order was corrected. As did the long walk down the pier to meet my 9:15 am excursion there were huge waves and threatening weather to the east. The excursion is to the Kohunlich Mayan Ruins. Our group of about 28 was prompt and we left a few minutes early. It was nice to have cell service while we were near the port and a few cities, but soon lost it in the Yucatan jungle. It was a bit of a drive as the site was located near the Belize border. Kohunlich is famous for the unique Temple of the Masks… which makes it different from other Mayan sites I have visited. There are a set of five (remaining) large carved Masks on one side of the Temple. We also saw Spider Monkeys and the scary Howler Monkeys in the Jungle canopy while on site. It was interesting. We returned to the port just before 4:00 p.m. I made it back to the ship at about 4:30 p.m. in time to get a couple of cans of Diet Coke from the scheduled Welcome Back Cocktail Party in the Haven Lounge. I took the cokes back to the cabin as it was such a short time until 5:15 dinner. We had some new guests at the table which made it better for the two ladies. Tonight I ordered Maryland Crab Cakes, Shrimp Cocktail, the Steak Diana entree, and a Tapioca dish for dessert. It was a nice dinner. After dinner, I attended the Production Show: Rock It. It featured the Singers and Dancers doing a set of classic songs. Unique costumes and a talented group. Thursday Night Football was even offered tonight, I have been impressed with the current Sports being offered, and I am hoping for the same with NCAA football on Saturday. I retired early as I was tired from all the walking today, about 8200 steps. I also love the evening turn-down service, very nice to have a clean cabin in the evening. It was a very busy day in port and on the Seaside.

Friday, November 4th / Cozumel / Day 6
Smooth seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good sleep. I actually slept late for me waking at 9:00 a.m. and we had been docked at Puerto Langosta for two hours. I was soon off and walking into town, I love docking at this pier, so much easier for the things I usually do when in Cozumel. My first stop was at Antonio’s for a haircut just after he opened at 10:00 a.m. A very good haircut too. The second stop is at ZensiSpa for a pedicure…very nice. The third stop is at my Cozumel HQ: Woody’s Bar & Grill. Luckily my favorite table was still available. The Live Entertainment by Michael, great Mexican Coca-Cola, excellent Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, and Bohemia beer were fantastic on this cooler and breezy day. My best weather day in Cozumel in a long while. I casually walked back to the ship (took photo above) arriving back at about 4:20 pm and a quick clean-up for my 5:15 dinner time. Dinner was very good, I ordered: a Baby Shrimp Cocktail, Penne all’Amayriciana, the Honey BBQ Meatloaf entree, and a Cherry Clafoutis Creme for dessert. The comedian Ken Boyd is scheduled in the theatre tonight, but having seen him previously did not attend. I had a movie night in the cabin and rested after two full days of activities. In business, it was a successful five days in the Stock Market up all five days, I should cruise more often. Overall another great port day in Cozumel.

Saturday,  November 4th / Day at Sea / Day 7

Some rolling seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good sleep. Wearing my game day T-shirt I went to breakfast at 7:30 a.m. when the MDR opened and sat with some (by now) regulars. I ordered Eggs Benedict with Bacon and Hash Browns. Also Hot Milk, Tomato Juice, Orange Juice, and Fruit Bowl. It was very good. I went to Trivia in the Haven at 9:30, it was a rather difficult one, I contributed but our team was short. Fun though. Agus cleaned my cabin while away…so glad he did it before kickoffs. It’s an overcast and windy day at sea so busy at all the indoor venues. I’m planning on having an NCAA Football Day all day. I watched the early games until about half-time then went to the Marketplace Buffet for a Salad and Pizza. It was good. I took several desserts back to the cabin for snacks as I suspect my Oklahoma game will run past early dining time. At 2:30 pm I took the laptop and AirPods up to the Bistrot la Boheme for better reception. I had a good spot and good reception to watch the OU vs. OSU game from there. Unfortunately, OU lost…too many turnovers, bad calls (seriously), and injuries to have when you play a good team. I retired to the cabin to eat my snacks and begin packing. I think we will be rolling off very early as we (the ship) never changed the time back to Eastern time. We should be an hour ahead of schedule when we arrive back in Port Canaveral .Photo is my interior cabin.  It was an interesting day on the Seaside.


Sunday, November 5th / Port Canaveral / Debarkation

We arrived very early, I was up and about at 5:00 a.m. and we were docked. I finished packing and was at the self-debark location before 6:30 a.m. We began leaving at about 7:00 a.m. and thanks to facial recognition we were soon on the street. I was on the parking shuttle bus by 7:30 and on the road by 7:50 a.m. Washed the VW in Lakeland, stopped for groceries, and was home at about 10:00 a.m. Easy Peasy.


Maiden Voyage: 2017 I Gross Tonnage: 153,500 tons

Passenger Capacity: 5179 | Crew: 1413 I Length: 323 meters/1060 ft

Max Cruising Speed: 22 knots I Avg Speed 21 knots

Installed power: Diesel (40,000kW) I Propulsion: Twin propellers

17 passenger decks Builder: Fincantieri

Godmother: Sophia Loren


I had cabin 12168 a starboard side interior located on deck 12 at the aft elevators. Storage is very limited too compared to other MSC ships. The toilet seems smaller perhaps because the glass shower doors restrict some movement. The wardrobe is also smaller so storage can be a problem. The cabin has a push-button safe, twin/king beds, a large padded headboard, two small nightstands, wall-mounted wall lights, a large mirror, a small refrigerator, a small table/bench (unusual), and a nice TV with interactive features. My cabin steward Agus was very good. See the Photo above.

Bars / Entertainment

Entertainment is not nearly as good as pre-covid. What they do is good, and guests are well entertained, but they will never know just how brilliant it used to be.  

Dining / Food 

The dinners in the MDR are very good, service and settings were wonderful. I love the tablecloths. Our wait staff were excellent, very pleased with the service. The buffet food was good to excellent. Not as many selections as in the past, but the food variety was fine. Favorites: all the Pizza, all the Pasta, Guacamole, Hamburgers, and Salad Bar. I only did one specialty restaurant: The Butcher’s Cut and it was great. 

Comments - MSC Cruise Line

MSC is very different than the usual American cruise lines and if you're looking for the same experience it will be much different. You may like the differences or you may be very unhappy with the differences. As an experienced cruiser, I love different. If you don’t like change or are not flexible you will probably NOT like sailing a European cruise line. Following are my personal observations on sailing MSC:  

MSC Pluses

Beautiful Public Rooms, Good MSC Production Shows and entertainment, Quality and Beautiful Themed Bars, Nice Cabins, Hot Milk readily available on buffet and MDR, Attentive bar servers, and Good MDR Breakfasts.

Changes since my last cruise on Seaside

Announcements are only in English

Fewer children since they changed the ‘Children sail free’ promotion.

Comedy shows

Many more American guests result in more: Scooters, Wheelchairs, and complainers.

$5 upcharge for a second entree in MDR

Highlights of the Cruise

Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse

MSC Loyalty including Diamond Card Parties & Gifts