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WonderMan3

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  1. Here is the Daily Planner from earlier today in Genoa. Will share info about our day tomorrow. Was up much too late at the casino tonight and need my sleep!
  2. Finishing off from Saturday... After we returned to the ship from our day in Marseille we both decided to take naps. I wanted some rest to help me fight this cold while Mike was trying to make up for sleep he didn’t get the night before. We rested for a few hours waking in enough time for our dinner reservation at 7:30pm at Butcher’s Cut. We decided to use our Black Card free meal for this. Our server was pleasant but there was a little communication issue when he tried to explain to us that there is only one Black Card meal per stateroom not per person. He kept making it sound like we were going to be charged for our meal which was confusing us. After a few tries I finally figured out what he was trying to articulate. Then Mike had an issue trying to order a White Russian with Grey Goose. The server thought Mike wanted to order two drinks. So that took several explanations. I mentioned earlier about the language issues at dinner the night before. And there have been a few other instances where communicating has been a bit difficult. I have never encountered a crew before where so many of the front line staff are not totally comfortable with English. As for the meal itself, Mike ordered the shrimp cocktail to start which he said was not good; he thought it did not taste fresh. I started with the Caesar salad which was much better than the one I had at Yacht Club. It wasn’t the best Caesar I’ve had but I’d say it was on par with Celebrity’s Tuscan Grill. We both had the filet as our main course. They both came out great. The mashed potato side was also tasty. My only bit of pickiness was that the bernaise sauce was pretty thin. For dessert Mike had the chocolate lava cake which he said was just okay. I had the chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie which was just a large cookie warmed slightly with ice cream on top. It was fine but nothing to rave about. Overall we liked our meal. It was definitely better than first night at Yacht Club. After dinner we headed to the casino. I broke even for the night while Mike finished down. The slots have been pretty tight so far.
  3. We didn’t pre reserve any specialty restaurants. We just went to the concierge within a few hours after boarding and got all the dates and times we wanted with no issue. So my advice would be to just set them up as soon as you get onboard. I will say though at our dinner at Butcher’s Cut last night the restaurant was maybe half full at most, and we dined at prime time, 7:30pm. Walking past the other specialty restaurants since we boarded we have seen lots of empty tables. Doesn’t seem like they are in high demand, on this cruise anyway.
  4. Sorry for the delay on updates. Between being busy in ports and feeling a bit under the weather I haven’t had a chance to post. So continuing our adventures from yesterday in Marseilles... We met our private guide outside the cruise terminal. I had reserved a tour through a company called One Day In Provence which I found with good reviews on Trip Advisor. Our guide was named Patrick. He took out in a very comfortable van for a tour of Marseilles and Cassis. We started in Marseilles with a walking tour through the old town and then down along the harbor of the old port. The city is a very gritty with a hodgepodge of architectural styles and graffiti mixed in with some wonderful murals. It felt very much like Greenwich Village back in the 80’s where there were little boutiques, cafes and art galleries alongside buildings that looked derelict. The harbor area seemed to be experiencing a revival with more renovated buildings and was abuzz with locals and tourists. Patrick took us through the local fish market and brought us to his favorite coffee shop to try a cup. Afterward we took a drive up to the Notre Dame de la Garde church which stands magnificently on a hill overlooking the city. It was very crowded with visitors and my cold was starting to annoy me so we didn’t stay too long. We next drove on to the cute little fishing village called Cassis, about a 30 minute drive from Marseilles. We had a nice lunch at a cafe near the harbor where we enjoyed some truffle risotto and veal milanese. After we had planned to take a boat ride to see the Calanques, which are giant rocky cliffs surrounding beautiful inlets with beaches. I was feeling very tired at this point though we just strolled for a bit instead to check some local shops and a bakery that Patrick recommended. We then finished our day with a drive up to an overlook to view the Calanques from above. Patrick then drove us back to the ship. All in all we spent 7.5 hours on this tour. It cost us 540 Euro for the day with lunch being on our own. Patrick was a great guide and I would definitely recommend this company. Sharing some photos from our day.
  5. This morning started out a bit rough for us. Mike had trouble sleeping all night due to indigestion and I was fighting off a sinus cold that was desperately trying to take hold. I found myself awake at 5:30 with our alarm set for 6 so I just got up early and got ready. While we were both dragging this morning we both agreed that the bed had been very comfortable. The ship had also been so calm through the night it didn’t even feel like we were moving. Once we were showered and dressed we headed up to the top deck so Mike could smoke and we caught the sunrise over the French coastline that we were approaching. We then headed down to the YC dining room for breakfast. Service was pleasant and did not feel rushed like the meals the day before. Mike ordered scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes. He thought the bacon was tasty, the eggs were fine but the pancakes were lousy. I ordered eggs Benedict with a side of bacon and hash brown. The hollandaise on the eggs was lacking flavor. The bacon I had to send back as it was a fatty mess; I asked them to crisp it up like Mike’s order came out. When they brought it back it was great. Overall though, not a very memorable breakfast. After breakfast we went back to grab grab the stuff that we needed for the day. I had booked a private tour with a local company whose guide was going to meet us at 8:30. We went to the concierge desk as Raj had advised us yesterday to come there whenever we wanted to disembark in order to have our butler escort us in order to avoid crowds. He called Jhonny who guided us off the ship. It wasn’t crowded this morning though so the escort wasn’t really needed.
  6. Here is today’s Daily Planner and a form for booking the city shuttle for Marseilles that was left in the cabin last night with the planner.
  7. So after sailaway we headed back to the cabin, running into two men named Frank and Joe from NYC. They had been escorted onto the ship the same time as us. Turns out they are on this cruise through a casino promotional offer as well. They also had experiences with NCL’s casino program and The Haven like we have. They were trying MSC our as they had getting a bit dissatisfied with NCL with cutbacks and higher prices kind of like we were with Celebrity. We got back to the cabin only to hear a loud whistling coming from our balcony door. It was shut tight but the strong wind outside was still making it through and causing the noise. This was surprising on a new ship. We kept opening and closing it multiple times and finally got it to set right and go quiet of course right as the butler came by so we couldn’t show him. He took note and asked us to tell him if we hear it again. We got dressed and headed to dinner around 7:15pm. I didn’t realize that the YC dining room didn’t open until 7, so those seniors who like to dine very early would not like that. As with lunch, the dining room was only about 25% full when we arrived. We were able to get a window table for two easily. Also like lunch we were inundated by the staff from the moment we sat down with hurried introductions, trying to take our water order and then drink order right away, bringing a bread selection and soon after trying to take our dinner order. I think our server Francesco and his assistant Emanuele realized we were feeling a bit rushed and tried to slow the pace a bit. This has been a surprise for me as I always thought that Europeans took their meal time at a much slower pace. Perhaps they assume that since we are American that we want to rush? Anyway, the two servers were very pleasant and more social than our lunch server. They seemed to struggle with English a bit though as they didn’t always understand questions we asked about the menu. But they were sincere and really trying to help so that was appreciated. Ordering drinks was also a little bit of a struggle. Mike wanted a White Russian with Grey Goose and that seemed to confuse them. I ordered a French Martini with Grey Goose which also perplexed them. He came back quickly and said Mike’s was no problem but for me the only martinis they could do were a standard or dirty. I wondered if something was getting lost in translation so I walked with Emanuele down to the bar and surveyed the bottles. I didn’t see Chambord anywhere and when asking the bartender he said they didn’t have any which explains how they could not have done a French Martini. I ordered a mudslide on the rocks directly with the bartender. He thought I wanted a frozen drink so I reiterated on the rocks and we reviewed the ingredients together. It came out just fine, and strong! So I wound up having a couple of them. When reviewing the menu we noticed no everyday items were shown. We asked Francesco and he confirmed they still had them and read us a list. It was salmon, beef filet, chicken, spaghetti and a couple other items. He advised it would take a little bit longer for those items to be served. Mike wound up getting a small portion of the spaghetti as a starter and then had the thyme and lemon chicken breast. I had a small portion of the lasagnette as a starter and also had the chicken breast. Mike liked his spaghetti and I liked the lasagnette although it was a bit lukewarm. The chicken we both found a bit bland and could’ve used a starch of some sort as a side. We both had room for dessert so Mike had the chocolate duo cake and I had the tiramisu. Both were excellent and the highlights of the meal. The atmosphere in the restaurant was nice as the sun was setting as we dined and there was that fantastic panoramic view out to sea. By the time we left around 8:15pm the restaurant had filled almost to capacity and gotten louder, so dining around 7 seemed like a good plan going forward. After dinner we headed to the casino to play slots. They have a smoking and non-smoking side. You put your key card in the machine to earn points while you play. It’s $2.50 coin in per point. If you earn 9999 points by the end of the cruise you earn a free future cruise. What we liked was that you could charge whatever money you wanted to play with directly to your onboard account. We played for a couple hours but machines were pretty tight. No big wins for us on this first night and we both ended up a bit down. We were back to the room by 11:30 and found a nice little chocolate on our pillow from turndown.
  8. After Mike finished his smoke we went down to the concierge desk to look into confirming dates and times for our Cirque du Soleil shows, specialty restaurants and spa massages we had pre-booked. The card in our room had directed us to go to the Carousel Lounge to confirm the Cirque shows but Raj the concierge said that he could set them up for us. We set it up to see both of the shows for the cocktail version only not the dinner and show, with one booked for Sunday night and the other for Tuesday night at 10pm. Raj said we were to come to the concierge desk about 10 minutes before our reserved time and there would be an escort to take us to our reserved seats at the show. We next reserved specialty restaurants. Raj was able to confirm all our days and times with no issue at all. We reserved Butcher’s Cut for Saturday night for our free Black Card member meal, Atelier Bistrot for Monday night and Hola Tapas for Wednesday night. For the spa reservations he said we had to go to the spa directly to confirm days and times. Raj concluded his assistance by helping us set up our WiFi accounts. We had pre-purchased the unlimited WiFi. It’s been working great so far. Much better speed than on Celebrity. Raj was extremely helpful and answered any and all questions without pause. We headed to the spa next. The entrance area was swarming with staff members flagging down any passers-by to try and get them to come in and make appointments. When we told one of the ladies we already had reserved she escorted us to the reception desk so she could set up our days and times. She tried to get us to book an appointment for today but we declined. I wanted our massages on the first day we are going to stay onboard, on Monday when the ship is in Naples. She confirmed us with no issue. I then inquired about the Thermal Spa and she said that as Yacht Club guests we had free access any day at anytime and did not need to make a reservation. She recommended visiting before our massages to help us feel more relaxed. Leaving the spa we wandered around the ship for a bit and were impressed by the design of the various venues. We checked out the casino which we plan on spending a lot of time in and saw lots of machines we like to play. Returning to the cabin, our luggage was delivered shortly after. We each unpacked and there was just enough room exactly between the two closets and various shelves and drawers for all our stuff. We had to leave again at 4:45pm for the lifeboat drill. Our station was on deck 6 in the theater. Only those who boarded today in Barcelona had to attend. The theater wound up only half full which made me think not a tremendous number of people got onboard today. The drill was pretty much a waste of time. You just watched staff show how to put on the life jackets and then we’re directed to watch a safety video back in your cabin. I believe the reason for this was because they would have to go over all the details 5 times in all the different languages spoken (English, Italian, German, French, Spanish) and it would take too long. Back to the cabin we went after the drill. I met our butler Jhonny on the way. He basically just wanted to know if we needed anything. I asked him for an extra bar of soap and confirmed that the mini-bar could be refreshed as needed. I also asked him why there were no eggs on the room service breakfast menu and if they could be written in on the order. He said no that eggs were not allowed to be served in guest rooms. When I asked why he said due to sanitation issues, whatever that means. Odd as I’ve never encountered this with any other cruise line. There doesn’t seem to be a lot that these butlers do. You don’t order room service through them although they do deliver it. You don’t book any shows or restaurants with them. All he seems to do beyond delivering your food orders is refresh the mini-bar and bring ice. He referenced cleaning the room twice a day so I’m not clear if he is also our room attendant as he did not mention or even introduce me to a room attendant like other cruise lines. He was pleasant enough but I’m not expecting to interact with him much. We decided to head up to Deck 19 to watch the sailaway from Barcelona. We ordered some drinks and I grabbed a slice of a cherry tart from the grill area. The bartender didn’t even ask for our room keys or medallions so I guess they assume that anyone in Yacht Club is supposed to be there. This was the most number of people I’d seen in the Yacht Club all day today. It was very pleasant sitting up there. Will definitely be planning on more time there this week. 99657244-EEC1-47CC-A171-A8D08FF52FC1.MOV
  9. Here is some of the paperwork in our cabin upon arrival including the Daily Program, Room Service info and notice about our Cirque du Soleil order.
  10. After getting our introduction to our cabin we decided to go have lunch at the Yacht Club dining room. The dining room is lovely with spectacular views out of the front of the ship. Getting a window seat was no issue as the restaurant was only about 25% full at the time we arrived around 12:30pm. My only complaint about the layout would be that all the tables of two are set up vertically towards the front of the ship which means that only one person gets the view. It would’ve made more sense to position them horizontally like Celebrity does at Tuscan Grill, so that both people can get a view. The lunch menu was a bit unappealing for both Mike and I. He couldn’t find a starter he liked so he just settled on the pork dish. I started with a Caesar salad and then had the burger. Mike liked his pork and it looked good too. My salad was bland; it wasn’t a Caesar like I’m used to with the dressing all mixed up with the lettuce, cheese, etc. There was just some very bland Caesar dressing drizzled over the salad. The burger was totally underwhelming. It and the French fires looked and tasted like they had just come out of the main buffet. We skipped having dessert as nothing sounded appealing. Service was nothing special. The moment we sat down, the server and assistant were on top of us asking for a drink order and then bringing a bread basket and then the server quickly back again to take the order before we’d barely started to read the menu. I always appreciate prompt service but this was just too rushed. For the rest of the meal, the server was just robotic with no personality. Overall not a great first impression of Yacht Club dining. Afterward we took a walk up to Deck 19 as Mike wanted to smoke (YC has one designated smoking area on the starboard side at the back of the YC area.). While up there we walked by the YC outdoor grill and wished we had eaten there for lunch instead as we saw a number of things that we would’ve liked that also looked better than the lunch we had. We will definitely be stopping back at the grill for lunch this week.
  11. We rarely drink soda so haven’t noticed yet. Will try and see over the next few days.
  12. Following our introduction in the Yacht Club lounge, one of the staff members came down and asked us what our preferred time would be to dine at the Yacht Club Restaurant for dinner and whether we wanted a window seat or not. We asked for a window seat and to dine at 7pm, at least for this first night. One of the butlers then came by and escorted us to our cabin. We are in cabin 15010. The butler showed us around the cabin and explained some things. She was not our assigned butler though. She said we would meet him later. It was actually nice to see a female butler for once. I saw another when we were sitting in the lounge. In my 10 cruises in Celebrity Suite class I have never actually seen any female butlers. The cabin is comfortably spaced. Feels a bit smaller than Celebrity’s Sky Suite on S-class. I’ve shared photos below. Some things we like so far..the USB ports in the lamps on either side of the bed which means we can each charge our phones at night without having to use an outlet across the room...having a mini bar with free access that can be refreshed daily...having a pillow menu to choose from...the giant full-length mirror...having both American and European outlets...having a shower without a tub. Some things we don’t like so far...the balcony only has one footrest for two chairs and no table...the closet is a bit tight on space for us (of course we are on a two cruise trip so it wouldn’t have been so bad for a 7 nighter)...the room service breakfast appears to have no hot egg dishes or bacon. Minor complaints though. I think we’ll be happy in this cabin. MSC appears to be a bit more technologically advanced than some of the other cruise lines with their Zoe device in the cabin which appears to be like Amazon’s Alexa and the wrist medallions they give you with your key card that have the exact same functionality. I don’t think we’ll be bothering with Zoe though and I prefer to just use my key card as I hate wearing anything on my wrist. Might change my mind for when visiting the pool.
  13. Just wanted to share a quick side note flashing back to our flight on Level that I remembered after finding this item that I had taken with me. One of the other things they give you in Premium Economy is a cute comfort pack. The items are stored in a clear reusable water bottle. You get a pair of socks, pencil, hand sanitizer, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste and ear plugs.
  14. So we woke up this morning pretty well rested. The bed at our hotel was very comfortable. We were pretty exhausted by the time we went to bed after a long day of travel with minimal sleep on the flight. If I had any complaint about sleeping at this hotel it’s that there was a good amount of noise outside through the night until almost 5am. It sounded like people going or coming from nightclubs based on the screaming and hollering going on at times. I wear earplugs at night so it didn’t disturb me. I only noticed the noise when going to the bathroom at one point. Light sleepers might take issue with this. We woke up around 8 this morning and headed down to breakfast around 9:30. Breakfast was not included with our rate but it was only 19 Euro per person for their full breakfast buffet which had ample choices of hot and cold items including a made to order egg station. After breakfast we went back to the room to pack up. (I needed to totally repack my bag after TSA went through it and upended everything.) Check out wasn’t until noon but I wanted to get to the ship before noon. The bellman who took our bags from our room was able to grab us a taxi out front of the hotel. It cost about 16 Euro to get to the cruise port. Arriving at the port around 11:30 it was not that busy. A port worker met us right at the taxi and took our luggage. He recognized it saying Yacht Club on our tags and directed us over to a tent that was designated for Yacht Club guests. He turned the bags over to an MSC staff member who took our cruise documents and passports and added special Yacht Club tags to our bags before sending them on to the port crew. She then escorted us inside the terminal. I assume she would’ve prioritized us through the security line but there was hardly anyone in front of us so it wasn’t necessary. She guided us to an area within the terminal sectioned off for Yacht Club guests where we had a seat and had a selection of snacks and beverages to choose from. Our escort came back within 5 minutes with our passports and cruise docs and told the staff members near us that we were free to board whenever we wanted. We were ready to go so one of the staff members escorted us and another couple onto the ship. Once entering the ship we had to go through another security check, this time verifying our passports and cruise docs and then on to the final checkpoint where they took our cruise docs and snapped a photo for security. We were not given key cards as they are waiting for you in your cabin. This whole check-in process took around 15-20 minutes from the point we arrived and was possibly the most relaxed check-in we’ve ever experienced. Our escort brought us to the Yacht Club lounge and left us in the hands of the head concierge whose name escapes me at the moment. He sat us down and gave us an introduction to Yacht Club and the services available to us. He offered us a glass of champagne or juice while we sat there. Our first impressions of the Yacht Club experience were very positive.
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