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  1. Oh boy, we just got off the phone with customer service. The first person we spoke with asked for a refund reference or case number and said she didn’t see that we were getting a refund since our ship actually sailed and told us to email the existing reservations department. She then transferred us to customer service who said that they haven’t heard anything from upper management and that they figure it will be another 30-40 days. I know that this is a difficult time but this is disappointing.
  2. We called MSC to check up on the refund and they said that it may take up to 60 days, the representative said that the refund are being processed through their office in Naples and that she could see that our refund was “being processed.” I’m assuming we’ll see our refund around the same time that we receive our stimulus checks 😉😉
  3. I wanted to add one more thing! We were really impressed with how good the MSC staff was with children. We frequently saw little kids walk up to the buffet with a plate and staff members would practically fall over themselves to help the kids pick out their food. There was a little Italian boy who seemed to spend his entire day walking around the buffet with a plate full of lettuce, raw onions, and breadsticks. He would ask any adult near him to help him get things that were out of his reach. My husband was one of the chosen ones and he couldn’t believe that this kid really just wanted onions.
  4. We booked Meraviglia at the future cruise desk on Seaside Jan 2019, which gave us $200 OBC. We booked our wedding a few months later and this cruise happened to be 2 days after our wedding, which worked out quite nicely! Embarkation: We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed at Red Carpet Inn, the room was fine but check in and check out both took over 40 min. They advertise free shuttles from the airport and to the cruise terminals but no amount of free would be worth the crowds and wait times. The room itself was perfectly fine for our needs but didn’t have anywhere in walking distance to eat or shop besides a vending machine and their dirty looking restaurant. We used SAS to get to the Miami terminal and they were great. Rooms: We had an Aurea balcony on the 14th floor, directly under the pool and buffet area. I would recommend the 13th or 12th floor if I could do it again. Our room was quieter than you would think, we only really heard kids running every now and then. The room was beautiful. The balcony was spacious and was a nice place to eat breakfast and lunch. We had a bathtub in our bathroom which was an unexpected treat! Housekeeping was great. We locked ourselves out of our safe and asked someone to reset it for us when they got to our room. The employee we spoke asked us if we could stay in our room while he reset it for our valuable’s safety and his which we didn’t think of and were really impressed with. We also needed housekeeping at 5 in the morning one night when our neighbor put their stroller out on the balcony and the stroller broke through our balcony’s barrier thing and was making the loudest banging sound. I called the front desk and they had someone up to our room to fix it in less than 5 minutes. The bed was very comfortable, we don’t sleep with a top sheet at home so no complaints there. The tv had a nice selection of channels, which we ended up using more than we expected. We learned that Travel Channel is almost entirely ghost hunting shows. Food & Drink: The food was so much better than Jan 2019 Seaside’s. Thank you to the poster who mentioned the sticky buns at breakfast, they’re outrageously good. They also had hash browns that were so good, our breakfasts were embarrassingly unhealthy thanks to the sticky buns and hash browns. The pizza was thin and greasy and delicious. It was great brick oven pizza. There was a kids section closer to the pool that was almost always very quiet and had French fries and chicken nuggets and everything terrible for you. I got a kick out of seeing the kids in doremi walking like ducklings to the kids section and to their table. We didn’t eat in the restaurant very often because we realized that the buffet and restaurant usually had mostly the same food and we only went when I wanted shrimp cocktail. The service in the restaurant was unremarkable. We aren’t big drinkers and stuck with the Easy Package that was included with the Aurea package. The pub and casino had the best bartenders, the pub seemed to have the same 4 people working the entire time so we got to know them a little and since the pub was usually pretty quiet it was easier to chit chat and figure out what drinks were included and what wasn’t. The casino had an outrageous bartender who basically made what he wanted to make and charged our card for a dummy Easy drink. We tipped generously and enjoyed some really nice, really fancy drinks. We had the displeasure of trying to order a drink at the bar near the soccer area, that bar had a pretty limited selection and there were some LOUD Americans who were very mad that they couldn’t get Bud Light at that bar, I told them that just meant it was time to switch to liquor and they weren’t amused. CC Meet & Mingle: The Meet & Mingle was held in the sky lounge, it’s a gorgeous adults only bar that overlooks the main pool area. Since we were honeymooning we weren’t interested in doing too much mingling but we loved the martinis and canapés. Cruise Director Gene Young really emphasized how important our reviews are to MSC, little did they know that we wouldn’t be able to get off the boat for another 4 days. Ports: You’ve read the headlines, you know what happened. We woke up in Jamaica, drank coffee on our balcony, looked at our watches... My husband and I figured something was wrong pretty quickly since Seaside seemed to pull in and then make an announcement that we could get off 20 minutes later. We had an excursion booked through an outside company so it was pretty stressful watching the time tick away. We were supposed to leave for the excursion at 11:30 and we emailed the company around 10:30 to cancel. We’ll probably book with the Cruise company moving forward to avoid the stress. Gene Young finally got on the intercom and told everyone that there was a crew member who was sick with Influenza A and that Jamaica was concerned due to Corona Virus. After that announcement, my husband and I went to the Aurea private deck and hung out in the hot tub and avoided all of the ruckus. Thank goodness for that deck, we ended up splitting our time between the spa and deck 19. The Aurea package ended up being a godsend with all of unexpected elements to our cruise Next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies and beautiful blue...water? My husband jumped up and said where are the Cayman Islands? I told him that they’re small so maybe they were on the other side of the boat? We got up and found a letter near our door, turns out that Grand Cayman said heck no and the captain decided to head straight to Cozumel and avoid waiting all day at the port. That letter also said that we would be getting a 30% refund so we were happy as could be. We went down to deck 5 and it looked like an airport during a snow storm. We watched the insanity for a moment and then headed to the pub as we see enough angry Italians at home (in laws 😉). At some point we also got a letter that said we would get free WiFi on Thursday, which is how I was able to sign into Cruise Critic and give updates. We also got to FaceTime with our families which was nice. We arrived in Cozumel later that night but turned away due to weather. We finally pulled in Thursday morning but Cruise Director Gene Young announced that they were still waiting for the Mexican health officials to come aboard and examine the crew member. They also announced that we would be getting a full refund, what could be better? I think that they gave us the free WiFi to mitigate any potential issues in Cozumel. It was pretty painful to be parked next to an empty Celebrity cruise ship while we were stuck on the boat. The customer service desk was bombarded with people, several of whom had their luggage with them. I think people were concerned that the boat would be quarantined and they were planning on getting off in Cozumel and salvaging their vacation from there. They announced that we would be staying in Cozumel for another day instead of Ocean Cay. They ended up making an announcement at 1 in the morning that we were finally cleared and could leave the ship. I leapt out of bed and my husband rolled over and told me I was crazy and to wait until morning. We heard some hedonists coming back around 4 AM and hey, good for them. We ended up getting up at 7 and leaving the boat by 7:30. We walked around a sleepy Cozumel and loved life. My husband had a bit of a cold going on so we walked to the Mega near the port and bought some pedialyte and NyQuil, the cashier must have been horrified. Cozumel was awesome. We rented a scooter and went around the entire island. I got a wicked sunburn on my back but it was so worth it. I’m sure Ocean Cay is nice but I was happy to have a full day on an established island with lots of food and shopping options. Shows: So this is very close to our professions and I could write a novel on what I would want to do to fix the shows on MSC... but that’s for another time. We booked Cirque du Soleil at Sea on our first day, which worked out since we could use our OBC to pay for it. We bought the cocktail seats, the free cocktail was fine, we had an option of Mojitos, Long Islands, and maybe a punch? The seats were great but we got up and moved closer to the stage as the show was starting. Viaggio is great, a little too short in my opinion but really lovely. Imagine my delight when I saw “An Evening with Gene Young” on the Saturday schedule. I could not imagine a more self indulgent experience and so I practically ran into the theater. The show was surprisingly lovely. It turns out that Gene is a powerhouse of a singer and has had quite the career. The captain forced him to throw the show together as a Hail Mary for the cruise and Gene made it very clear that he would have rather been doing anything else. Gene was much funnier on Mera than he was on Seaside, it felt like he had really hit his stride. If I figure out how to post video of Gene’s performance I will share it here. Overall: I think MSC did everything as well as they could given the circumstances. The buffet was fully operational and had much higher consumption than expected and we didn’t notice any issues. The OBC, WiFi, and refunds were very generous and we were able to gamble and bring some limoncello back to our parents which was nice, thanks MSC! The captain and Gene Young made several announcements and kept us in the loop the entire time. The demographics were very different from our last cruise with MSC. There were a lot more Americans and Canadians and the staff had lots of people from Peru and Caribbean Islands. The Aurea package totally spoiled us, we used the spa and private deck a ton and we loved having a balcony to escape to. If we had had an interior room through all of this it probably wouldn’t have been as pleasant. Unfortunately for me, my husband wasn’t thrilled with cruises before this and this cruise galvanized his feelings. We left the ship with him saying never again. Until our parents plan a family cruise and we simply have to go 🤓.
  5. The captain just announced that we are getting a full refund!! The health officials came and decided to do more tests on the crew member, we figure full corona virus tests, the results of which will take up to 12 hours to come in. We’re in the buffet now, the mood is good and everyone is enjoying their pizzas.
  6. As of 10:30 am EST we’re still not allowed in Cozumel. They made an announcement that the Mexican Medical Director has still not answered their invitations to come aboard and examine the situation. The captain has changed the all aboard time to 10:30pm to make up for the delay. There are several people near reception with all of their luggage.
  7. Here are the letters that the ship gave us and a picture of Cozumel from our balcony. We highly suggest the Aurea package, we’ve had a great time hiding out in the spa and the private deck/hot tub. There’s a French couple that likes to get a little too frisky in the hot tub but we’ve learned to stay far away if we see them coming 😉 The crew has been working around the clock and I’m sure they’re exhausted and haven’t had the usual time to recover that I assume they normally get on port days. No one that we’ve spoken to seems particularly frustrated, we all understand that these island are small and wouldn’t have the resources to combat a virus like Covid/SARS/Corona.
  8. In good news, the food is ten times better than it was on Seaside last year and most bartenders will just make whatever drink you want to when you order a virgin+shot combo.
  9. We are supposed to go to Ocean Cay on Saturday. We’ve spoken with some people who wondered why they didn’t just take us to Ocean Cay yesterday and dock there for a few days. They’ve given us a 30% refund, 20% off a future cruise, 24 hours of internet, and $200 refundable on board credit.
  10. We’re on board. The captain announced that we couldn’t pull into port due to weather. It is very foggy and windy so it seems reasonable to assume that they aren’t lying about that. Our MSC for Me apps don’t have anything for Day 5 on our itineraries, we’re hoping that that’s just a mistake and not foreboding.
  11. I really enjoyed the coffee in the buffers on Seaside, they have steamed milk available at all times so that really elevates a simple cup. Definitely go to the CC meet and mingle. We were able to stock up on chips, chocolate covered strawberries, and bottles of sparkling water and meet other cruisers who had great tips and tricks for us. It’s definitely a different vibe from Carnival, We enjoyed the wide variety nationalities and languages. You should definitely try any and all Indian food in the buffet and MDR, we discovered the biryani too late and never saw it again after the 4th or 5th day. IMO the Indian food was the best food we had on the ship!
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