Sunday, January 7, 2024

MSC Seashore Cruise Review - January 7, 2024

  MSC Seashore Cruise Review  - January 7, 2024 

Just the Facts:
Ship: MSC Seashore - 2020 - Weight: 169,400t - Capacity: : 4,540 passengers
Captain:  Stefano Aiello (Italy)   Cruise Director:  Endrigo Martin (Brazil)
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 first cruise on the Seashore, my 20th cruise on MSC, and my 205th cruise overall.  I do have Diamond status, the highest of the MSC Loyalty Club levels.
Sunday, January 7 / Port Canaveral / Embarkation / Day 1 
I have a 2:00-2:30 Boarding time so planned accordingly and left the Florida Villa at about 10:15 a.m. for the drive to Port Canaveral. I arrived at Park-N-Cruise at about 12:30 pm., 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 1:00 grabbed my bags and went up one level to port security and through quickly. They had a Diamond card line and I went directly to a check-in counter. Very smooth process when arriving later and I was able to go straight to my cabin arriving on Deck 9 at about 1:30 p.m. I have a balcony cabin located all the way forward, actually the first cabin so a long walk to the forward elevator/stairwell. It is very comfortable, especially for a solo. 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 Couch, and a small but adequate bathroom with a solid glass door shower. I was able to watch the Tampa Rays game from 2nd quarter while setting up and hanging my clothes. At halftime, I went up to deck 16 to the buffet. My traditional embarkation selection Roast Beef was excellent…very moist and flavorful as well as Mashed Potatoes and Pickled Cabbage. I returned to the cabin and watched the remainder of the game before Muster Drill began at about 4:00 pm. I prepositioned myself on deck 7 so that I got my card scanned at Muster Station C (upper Theater) very early and avoided most of the crowding. I watched some of the Dallas Cowboys football game while finishing set-up. I ordered the premium WiFi package and the reception in my cabin was good. They are strict about one device…and you can not change from a Laptop to an iPhone. I arranged to get the Easy Drink package and had a few cocktails before the scheduled 5:35 pm launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral. We began our sail away before launch but as we were still in the channel we had front row seats (photo above). As it was a later launch at dusk you could easily see the flames of Blast Off and follow the rocket as it gained altitude. As it passed directly over the ship it was just a fireball in the sky. It was quite Spectacular to see. I have a 7:15 dinner assignment in the Central Park Dining room (MDR), located on deck 5 aft…it’s going to be a long walk, but probably needed. Dinner and service was good. For dinner, I ordered the Tomato Basil Soup, a very nice Scallop Ceviche, and the Ravioli entree. For dessert a wonderful Crema Catalonia. After dinner, I had reservations for the 9:30 Variety Show but retired to the cabin. It was straight to bed and some TV after a busy day. 

Monday, January 8th / 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. We were docked at about 7:00 am and it is an overcast day…the Captain has already announced that we will not overnight here as worse weather is forecast for tomorrow. I went to the MDR for breakfast at about 8:15 am and had a shared table. I ordered a Fruit Plate, Danish, Eggs Benedict with a side of Bacon, and hash brown potatoes. I was served Hot Milk which is not always easy to get on other cruise lines but very common on MSC. One advantage of this far-forward cabin is that the lighthouse is right off of my balcony…so I have a great view. I did my usual Monday morning business activities and enjoyed cabin time. I went up to deck 16 just to get a good view of the island. The water here is beautiful and the Palm trees look better with every visit. This stop will only improve over time. I had Pizza for a light lunch while on deck 16. Did a walkabout and more cabin time this afternoon. I went to the Sports Bar at about 4:15 for some draft beer. I wanted to watch the NCAA football Championship game at 7:30 so I did dinner at Hola! Tacos and Cantina when they opened At 6:00 pm. I did the all-you-can-eat option @ $17.99. I did well, I ordered: a variety (5) of soft tacos (very small), Hola’s Signature Guacamole (2), Queso Fundido, Chicken Tostada, Chicken Enchiladas Entree, and a Mexican Flan for dessert. It was very good and very filling. I would do this again. I made it back to the cabin for kickoff and watched an entertaining game. I also had front-row seats for the Lighthouse Light Show. Best perspective I have seen. We sailed away just after 10:00 pm. It was an easy restful day on the Mac Seashore.
Tuesday, January 9th / Ocean Cay now Sea Day / Day 3 
Rocky seas overnight that became worse over the course of the day. I slept in and then went up to the buffet for some Eggs and very good Bacon. I had a casual morning updating this blog and doing some online business. The wind was the enemy today, we passed through the same front that hit Florida so hard today. Most of the outer decks were closed so I made a Cabin Day out of it. My cabin is as far forward as it gets so I got a lot of the howling wind noises. Interesting day. At about 5:00 pm I went down to the Brooklyn Cafe, a very nice large bar lounge, for some cocktails and people-watching. At 7:15 I went to the Central Park Dining room for dinner. I ordered: Shrimp Cocktails (2), an excellent French Onion Soup, the nice Pasta Bolognese entree, and dessert. All from the classic (available daily) side of the menu. I originally had 9:30 reservations for the variety show in the Theater, but did a walkabout and saw a new friend participating in the Lip Syncing contest so I watched that for awile, then watched the dueling Piano Bar performers (photo). All entertaining and lots of guests out this evening. I retired back to the cabin and updated myself on the news about a civil war breaking out in Ecuador. I’m scheduled to fly to Quito on Tuesday so quite interested in the news. It was a different but interesting sea day on the MSC Seashore.

Wednesday, January 10th / Day at Sea / Day 4

Smoother seas today and I slept very well. At about 10:00 am I went to the Le Cabaret Lounge for the Diamond Reception. They had small snacks on the tables and later brought Petit-fours. There was a selection of five drinks on the trays of the Bar Servers. The entertainment was an excellent Jazz duo. The Cruise Director introduced the Senior Staff, the Captain, and the Hotel Director. No leaving early at this event. I sat with two ladies who happened to be fans of this Blog so that was fun. Stopped at the Bar on the way out and had a Bloody Mary complement of the Beverage Manager. Nice. Since it was a sea day I took advantage of having Lunch in the MDR at about noon and I was joined by my new friends. I ordered the Black Bean Soup, the Tex-Mex Chicken Salad, a very nice Veal Scaloppini Piccata, and Boston Creme Pie (disappointing) for dessert. The weather is getting a bit better and I had a Cabin afternoon and a wee nap. At about 7:00 pm I did a walkabout and did a bit of shopping before attending the 3-hour continuous Variety Show in the Le Cabaret Lounge, a typical MSC production show M.O. with lots of action and less verbiage due to language barriers. I saw various interesting acts before my 9:00 pm reservation at the Butcher's Cut Steakhouse. Tonight I ordered the Smoked Tomato Soup, the Hearts of Palm Salad, and the NY Sirloin Strip Steak with a Baked Potato side. The assortment of Breads and Steak Sauces were also good as was the service. Thank you, MSC, it was an enjoyable meal. I then retired to the cabin for a contented sleep. A nice day on the MSC Seashore.


Thursday, January 11th / Costa Maya, Mexico / Day 5

Finally, calm seas overnight and I slept very well. We arrived several hours early by 7:00 am as I was up using the WiFi. I slept a bit longer and then checked the beautiful weather we have today. The first real sun since we left Florida. At about 10:30 am I went up to the buffet for some Eggs, Potatoes, Bacon, and French Toast. Nice view of the Lighthouse too. I left the ship after breakfast and made my way to the taxi stand for a shred taxi ($4 pp) to the old village of Mahahual. There are four ships docked today and a mass of people at the port area. We arrived in Mahahual and I walked along the Malecon until I saw workers wearing El Faro T-shirts. That was our favorite hangout before Hurricane Dean wiped out everything in 2007. They have now built permanent Palapas and the new Palm trees now cover shade on the beach. There are so many more people than I have ever seen here, but I did get a shady table with great sea breezes. I found numerous photos in my iPhone of the original El Faro, as we went twice in 2006. The current servers were very impressed and in fact, brought over our favorite waiter from 18 years ago, unfortunately, he works at a different place now, but his grandson served me. It is much more touristy and thus expensive. I had a couple of Cervesas and a nice MX Coca-Cola, but the best was the Lobster Tacos…they were excellent. The water was excellent and the beach was nice (photo above). From the water you can see the huge Cruise Ships in the distance, Pelicans and Albatrosses flying about, and the abundant beach activities. I got a shared taxi back to the port at about 4:00 pm and soon back on the Seashore. Rested and enjoyed the sunset from the balcony until time for dinner. Tonight I ordered the Maryland Crab Cakes and Herbed Wild Mushroom Ragot as starters and both were excellent.  The very good Steak Diana entree, and two desserts: Coconut Tapioca and Vanilla Creme with Berry Coulis. It was a very nice dinner. It was a very nice dinner.
After dinner, I attended the Production Show:
The Journey. It featured the Singers and Dancers doing a set of classic songs from various European Countries. Unique costumes and a talented group and they did work in two of my favorites: the Can-Can (photo left) and Con Te Partiro. Following the show I watched the Piano entertainers as I waited for some Coca-Cola from the bar servers to take back to the cabin. I was tired from all the walking today, over 7000 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 Seashore.

Friday,  January 12th   /  Cozumel  /  Day 6 
Smooth seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good night's sleep. I woke at bout 7:30 a.m. and we had been docked at Puerto Langosta for a while. I did some WiFi business but at about 9:30 am I was 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 as he opened at 10:00 a.m. Another very good haircut too. The second stop is at Zensi Spa for a pedicure…it was very nice. The third stop is at my Cozumel HQ: Woody’s Bar & Grill. I had dropped my backpack at my favorite table earlier. The good WiFi, Live Entertainment by Michael, great Mexican Coca-Cola, good Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, and Bohemia beer were very nice on this nice and breezy day. The day seemed a bit off though. I casually began walking back to the ship earlier than usual and taking an unusual route when I heard my name called on the street…it was David my usual Bartender from Woodys. He’s working at another place and he filled me in on Woody’s…seems there has been a riff in management. I wondered why I had not seen my good friend Nelly there. In fact, I had not seen the new owners either. I did stop at the Thirsty Cougar on the Malecon as a break on my walk. Manny has been there since the original owners and they do have my Bohemia as well as the view (photo from my table) and a nice sea Breeze. I made it back on board before 4:00 pm and refreshed and relaxed before our sailing away. This is one of those days that I’m glad I have a 7:15 dinner time. Dinner was very good, I ordered: two Baby Shrimp Cocktails, the Penne all Amatriciana pasta, the Honey BBQ Meatloaf entree, and a Cherry Clafoutis Creme (only fair) for dessert. After dinner I retired to the cabin, overall another great port day in Cozumel.

Saturday, January 13th / Day at Sea / Day 7 

Some rolling seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good sleep. I had a relaxing morning the went up to the Buffet at about 10:30 am. I had French Toast and Bacon with milk and sat outside on the aft…beautiful weather today. I then walked across the Bridge of Sighs to the Sky Bar for a spicy Bloody Mary and enjoyed the aft view with the wake. I took some Coca-Cola back to the cabin updated this blog and did some research on my trip to Ecuador on Tuesday.  Having some problems since the troubles and one flight arriving after curfew. In the afternoon I went back to the Buffet for a Hamburger and Fries. You build your own and they are very good. Still great weather but I know later we have to pass through a cold front. But the most sun we have had on the ship so guests are happy and outdoors on this final sea day. We had another Diamond cocktail event (photo) at 5:30 pm in the Le Cabaret Lounge, basically the same as the first one. I then went by the Brooklyn Lounge for my cocktails prepared by I Gusti then to the MDR for my 7:15 dinner. It was Italian Night and the tables were nicely decorated with an Italian-themed menu. I ordered Arancini, two entrees: Bistecca alla pizzaiola and Chicken Parmigiana, with Tiramisu for dessert. It was very good other than the dessert although all the desserts have been weak. I will try the Pistachio Ice Creme next visit in February. I retired to the cabin to watch the NFL Wildcard game between Miami and Kansas City played in -7° with -30°wind chill. Wow. I tried to sleep, but difficult this night. It was a nice find sea day on the MSC Seashore.

Sunday, February 14th / Port Canaveral / Debarkation
Fair seas overnight, but I did not sleep well, too many last minute changes to Ecuador plans. We arrived on time and were docked just after 6:00 am. I finished packing and was at the self-debark location at about 6:45 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. Stopped for groceries, and was home before 10:00 a.m. Easy Peasy. 

Maiden Voyage: 2017  /  Gross Tonnage: 153,500 tons
Passenger Capacity: 5179  /  Crew: 1413  /  Length: 323 meters/1060 ft
Max Cruising Speed: 22 knots  /  Avg Speed 21 knots
Installed power: Diesel (40,000kW)  /  Propulsion: Twin propellers
17 passenger decks  /   Builder: Fincantieri
Godmother: Sophia Loren

I had cabin 9004 a starboard side balcony located on deck as far forward as you can go with a long walk to the forward elevators. Storage is fine if solo. The toilet seems smaller perhaps because the glass shower doors restrict movement. 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 Ariel was very good.

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 very good. 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 very good.  I may say the the Seaside food seems better than the Seashore.

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.  Tablecloths.

Changes since Covid
Announcements are now only in English
Fewer children since they changed the ‘Children sail free’ promotion.
Many more American guests result in more: Scooters, Wheelchairs, and complainers.

Highlights of the Cruise
Rocket Launch from Port Canaveral
Hola! Tacos and Cantina
Port Days in Cozumel and Costa Maya
Butcher’s Cut Steak House


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