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"Aurea Suite With Whirlpool Bath" - The Things That Surprised Me

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I just got back yesterday from our 7-day cruise on MSC Seaside. We stayed in a "Suite With Whirlpool Bath", which is a much-larger-than-normal balcony cabin, with a Jacuzzi on the balcony. There are 28 of them on MSC Seaside.

 

For months and months before our cruise, I researched everything I could about that type of cabin, and by the time the cruise came along I thought knew exactly what to expect. But it turns out that there were some surprises that I didn't learn about in my research! I thought I'd share them here.

 

In case you haven't seen

I made several months ago in which I explain all the cool things about these cabins... let me just say that on most cruise ships, if you want a cabin with its own private Jacuzzi, you're going to have to pay a LOT of money. The most expensive suites on quite a few cruise ships will have a private Jacuzzi, but you're generally talking about somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for those kind of high-end suites. The cheapest cabin I ever found with its own Jacuzzi was the Haven Spa Suite on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. That would set you back roughly $6000 for a week, during the cheapest weeks of the year. So, I got pretty excited when I booked the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" on MSC Seaside for a little over $3000. I don't know if they can still be had that cheaply, but that's what I paid when I booked my cruise... about a year ago.

 

In my research, during the ship's construction, the only visuals of the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" that I had to go by were these artist's renderings:

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20Balcony%20-%20Wide%20Shot.jpg

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20Balcony.jpg

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20interior.jpg

Those were the photos on which I based my decision to book the cabin. That Jacuzzi looked great! I wasn't too wild about the purple color scheme inside the cabin, but it certainly wasn't a dealbreaker.

 

During the final weeks of the ship's construction, real photos of MSC Seaside started to trickle out to Facebook, Instagram, etc.

One in particular had me VERY worried:

 

FB_IMG_1511911064414.jpg

The photo had been taken at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy when the ship was under construction. I have no idea who the guy was. I found it on Facebook by simply searching for the hashtag #MSCSeaside. It was the first photo I had seen of the actual Jacuzzi on the balcony... everything I had seen prior to that had been an artist's rendering.

 

Based on that photo, I worried that the Jacuzzi on the balcony was going to turn out to be tiny... not large enough for two people (my wife and I) to share. Sharing the Jacuzzi was the whole reason I had booked that cabin. So, for several weeks prior to our cruise, I was really worried that the Jacuzzi on our balcony was going to end up being a disappointment.

 

Once we got onboard MSC Seaside and were able to get in to our cabin, the very first thing I did was head out to the balcony and take a look at the Jacuzzi. It was much larger than that previous photo made it appear. Before long, I turned on the water spouts to fill up the Jacuzzi. It takes about 20 minutes to fill it with water. The water spouts are very similar to what you'd have on a bath tub at home... you control the mixture of hot and cold, so you can make the water in the Jacuzzi be any temperature you want. Once the tub was full, my wife and I changed in to our swimsuits, and climbed in. As soon as we were in it, it was quite clear that not only was there room for two in there... but perhaps even three.

 

Jacuzzi%20-%20IMG_7954.jpg

 

So, our first surprise was a positive one. While the Jacuzzi didn't really look like the one they showed in the artist's renderings... for example, there was no wooden step to help you get in to it... that Jacuzzi was basically the best part of our entire cruise. We loved relaxing in it, having a nice conversation, and enjoying the view. On most days, we used it twice a day.

 

I'll take a little break right here... and in my next post in this thread, I'll tell you about the other surprising things we discovered about the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath".

 

By the way, my real name is Jim Zimmerlin... everyone calls me Jim Zim... and my wife's name is Kellyn. (It rhymes with Helen)

 

I'll be posting a full review of our cruise... but it's going to take time to put together. I shot 440 photos and 550 video clips during our cruise! I've got to figure out which ones are "keepers"... tweak the photos, and edit the video clips in to a couple of videos that tell a story. And starting tomorrow, I'm back at my real job 40 hours a week! So, my full review is probably two weeks away... but I couldn't wait to tell you right away about the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" and the things about it that surprised me.

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I'm glad you two fit in the hot tub. I've booked a forward "Suite with Large Balcony" with the hot tub on Meraviglia, it won't be like the Garden Villa tub but looks very good for the price. Looking forward to your review.

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Great start! I'm looking forward to the rest of your review.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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The next surprise was not a huge one, but it was something I found interesting and which I hadn't picked up on in all my pre-cruise research: the Jacuzzi has an underwater light, and that makes it look pretty darned cool at night.

 

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Jacuzzi%20At%20Night-%20IMG_8459.jpg

The light can be set to quite a few different colors, or you can set it to automatically change colors over time. I liked the constant blue color, but also thought red was pretty cool, too.

Another surprise was that there were actually four patio chairs on the balcony, plus an ottoman. Two chairs were solid and could not be folded up, and two more were folded up and tucked in to the corner...

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Balcony%20-%20IMG_7997.jpg

When I first saw the two extras... folded up like that, I thought they might be loungers. But no, they're just a slightly different type of chair with a taller back. Another thing to notice in the photo is the view you have from this balcony of quite a few other balconies. It made for some interesting people watching from our Jacuzzi. Of course, they could see us, too... so that's a double-edged sword.

 

You might be wondering... why would they need four chairs on the balcony? In case you invited guests over? Well, the answer to that question is our next surpise. This cabin can sleep more than two people.

 

Here's an interior photo of the cabin, in which you can see that there is not only a couch, but a love seat, too...

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Couch%20and%20Love%20Seat%20-%20IMG_7922.jpg

The love seat (on the left) can be opened up to become a single bed. Pretty cool! But wait, there's more. The couch can be opened up, too. And the surpising thing you discover when you open up the couch is that it doesn't just turn in to one bed... it turns in to bunk beds!

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Sleeps%20Six%20-%20IMG_7901.jpg

Now, I want you to look at that photo VERY carefully... because if you focus your attention on the distant end of the cabin, you might notice something interesting hanging down from the ceiling: yet another bed! See it? It's hanging down from the ceiling, directly above the main bed. So, this cabin actually can sleep SIX people. A travel agent friend of mine tells me that they only allow you to book five people in the cabin, though... which doesn't make any sense. Perhaps her information is wrong.

 

Please note that in that last photo, there aren't any sheets or blankets or pillow on the extra beds. I didn't want to bother the cabin steward to do a bunch of extra work just for a photo for CruiseCritic. You're seeing the beds without the bedding that they would have if you actually were a family staying in this cabin.

 

I'm going to take another break...

And there will be more surprises to come in my next post in this thread.

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Thanks Jim. We follow your youtube channel and were looking forward to your review on the Seaside. We sale in 5 weeks (went with the YC over the suite since we loved the Haven on NCL and wanted to see what the MSC ship within ship concept is like).

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Thanks Jim, nice meeting you and Kellyn and thanks for letting us see your cabin on our Cabin Crawl. Looking forward to you photos and videos on Youtube. Bob

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One of the things that I learned about this cabin in my pre-cruise research was that it has a real walk-in closet. Not many cabins on the MSC Seaside have a walk-in closet, but the 28 cabins with the Jacuzzis on the balconies do.

I got a photo of it, but I apologize because it is not a very good photo. The lighting was horrible, since there is just a single recessed light in the ceiling of the walk-in closet. And with all of our stuff in that closet, it looks kind of messy. Sorry!

 

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Closet%20-%20IMG_7938.jpg

The closet includes a safe, barely visible behind the hat on that one shelf. You might also notice that I removed all the supplied hangers and placed them on the top shelf above the hanging clothes. My wife and I find it much easier to pack for a cruise if we use our own hangers and bring our clothes on those hangers. That way, we simply transter the clothes from our closet at home to our suitcase, with the clothes still on the hangers. When we get to our pre-cruise hotel, we transfer the clothes on the hangers to the hotel's closet. When it's time to move from the hotel to the ship, we just move the clothes still on the hangers, and in to our suitcase. And when we arrive on the ship, we move them once more to the closet in our cabin. That's simpler than having to fold and unfold the clothes and to have to place the clothes on hangars during each move. The downside is a tiny bit of extra weight and space devoted to hangars in our suitcases, and having to find a place to stash the hangars that are supplied by the hotel and cruise ship.

So, here's the surprise regarding the walk-in closet:

It sounds like a great thing to have in a cruise ship cabin, but it's really not!

 

When I heard that our cabin would have a walk-in closet, I thought that was a very good thing. After all, in a home on land, a walk-in closet is much more desirable than a standard closet with sliding doors. But it turns out that a walk-in closet on a cruise ship is very impractical, especially a walk-in closet with a door that automatically closes on its own.

 

When two people (or more) are sharing a cabin on a cruise ship, you almost always get dressed at the same time. You wake up, and you want to go to breakfast, so you get dressed at the same time. You come back from the pool and you want to change out of your swimsuits and in to warmer clothes... at the exact same time. It's almost time for dinner, and you want to get dressed up for it... at the exact same time. So, you're almost always dressing at the exact same time. And that's really hard to do when all of your clothes are in a small walk-in closet. Now if this had been some large home on land, you could have had a walk-in closet big enough for two people to use at the same time. But this is a cruise ship, and the walk-in closet is only big enough for one person at a time. So, that's inconvenient when you both want to get dressed at the same time.

 

A far better closet design can be found on the newest Royal Caribbean ships, such as Anthem Of The Seas and Harmony Of The Seas. On those ships, the cabin has two closets... one on each side of the couch.

Closets%20-%20IMG_5600.jpg

A Balcony Cabin on Harmony Of The Seas

 

Notice how there is a closet on each side of the couch. That gives you a good six feet of separation between the closets... making it easy for both of you to dress at the exact same time. MSC's idea of having a walk-in closet sounded like a great idea to me, but Royal Caribbean's solution was actually much better.

The bathroom of our cabin was full of surprises. Here's a photo that shows the biggest one...

Cabin%2014211%20-%20Shower%20-%20IMG_7943.jpg

Notice anything unusual? I bet you probably won't notice it at first. Take a look at the piece of glass that separates the bath/shower from the toilet and sink area. That's all there is to that glass panel. There's no more hidden out of view, and there's no shower curtain, either. So, when you actually use the shower, you make a gigantic mess! Water gets everywhere. There is no sliding glass door and no shower curtain to prevent the water from splashing out of the tub/shower. I don't know what the cabin designers were thinking in designing the bathroom this way. It's very impractical. After you take your shower, you have to spend a few minutes wiping up the water that has splashed out on to the floor of the bathroom, the cabinets, and even as far as the door that leads out to the cabin. You really can't just leave the splashed water in place and have your cabin steward clean it up... because if you did that, you would track a lot of that water from the bathroom floor out on to the carpet in the cabin... and that could eventually lead to mold. And if you're the second person of the day to use the shower, you certainly don't want to find the bathroom all covered with water... so you are definitely going to insist that your roomate does a full cleanup of the spilled water in the bathroom before you take your turn.

Another surprise in the bathroom is that the storage rack for the bath towels is inside the bath/shower stall. This is a really dumb idea. I've seen this trend in a few hotels we've stayed at. Bad idea. Your towels get wet from water splashed around during your shower.

 

A nice surprise is that there is a built-in dispenser next to the sink for liquid soap. I like this way better than hotel and cruise ship bathrooms where they provide a bar of soap for you. In the shower/tub, there are also dispensers full of liquid body wash, and shampoo. Please note, however, that if you need conditioner... you'll have to bring that on your own.

 

I'm going to take another break here, and then I'll come back with a few more very positive things, and one final negative thing, about this cabin we were in... which, by the way, was 14211. I don't think all 28 of the "suite with whirlpool bath" cabins on MSC Seaside are identical. So, just because ours could sleep six... don't assume that's true for all 27 of the other similar cabins onboard!

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Regarding the jacuzzi, does it have a heater so that when you turn on the jets it keeps the water warm by cycling it through some sort element or is it just a standard bath tub jacuzzi?

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Another positive surprise, once we actually spent some time in the cabin, was how big the cabin really is. I knew from my pre-cruise research that an inside cabin on MSC Seaside is typically 151 square feet, a balcony cabin is typically 183 square feet, and that our "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" was 300 square feet.

Take a look at these deck plans for a visual:

 

Deck%20Plans%20-%2014%20XCU.jpg

Look at cabin 14209. That's an inside cabin with no windows and no balcony. That's for your very budget-conscious cruisers. Then look at cabin 14205. That's a standard balcony cabin. Now look at our cabin, 14211. Look at how much longer our cabin is than those others... almost twice as long! The width of the cabins are about the same, but the length of our cabin was tremendously more generous. This allowed them to put in that walk-in closet, as well as have not only a couch but a love seat, too.

The deck plans give you a decent visual of how the size of our cabin compares to the neighbor's, but let me show you a picture that's even more dramatic. Please take one more look at those deck plans above, and compare the length of 14205 to 14211. Now let me show you what that looks like in real life. Here's a picture of the hallway between the doors for cabins 14205 and 14211...

 

Cabin%2014211%20-%20IMG_8287.jpg

In the center of the photo, it's the door to our cabin, 14211. Down that hallway to the right, you can see the door to 14205 in the distance. That length of hallway is the difference in the length of those two cabins! Look at how far it is between those two doors... that's the extra space that our cabin has versus theirs. It's huge! I laughed when I was sitting on our balcony one day and the cabin steward knocked on our cabin door. It seemed like it took forever for me to walk from the balcony to the door at the other end of our cabin!

 

One other very important thing to understand about the 28 "Suites With Whirlpool Bath" is that these cabins come with the Aurea experience included. If you've never cruised with MSC before, you won't really understand what that means! Let's see if I can explain this in a way that folks who have only cruised with other cruise lines would understand...

OK, let's say you take a cruise with Carnival. On your first cruise, you don't get any special perks because you are a newbie. After that, you're a member of their loyalty program and there are certain perks involved. On your second Carnival cruise, they will place a complimentary bottle of water in your cabin. It's not a big perk, but it's something. As you cruise more with Carnival, you work your way up the loyalty program, and the perks get better. At the gold level, you get a special commenorative pin, plus a coupon for a free drink. At the Platinum level, you get priority check-in and boarding on embarkation day, an invitation to a special cocktail party with free drinks, and one of my favorite Carnival perks... priority assistance at the guest services desk, meaning if there's a gigantic line for assistance, you go to the front of the line. (I wish I had that on MSC Seaside the one time I got stuck in a 45 minute line at guest services!)

 

On MSC, it works a bit different. They offer several different "experiences"... such as the Bella experience, the Fantastica experience, and the Aurea experience. Each comes with different perks. And even on your first cruise, if you want one of the experiences that offers the really good perks, you can get it by either buying in to that experience, or by booking a type of cabin where that experience comes standard.

 

Let me give you an example. Imagine two different couples staying in balcony cabins next door to each other. When each of those couples booked their cruise, they got to decide which "experience" they wanted to have. For the base price of their cabin, they would get the Bella experience. But they also have the option to pay a little extra for one of three other better experiences with more perks. I won't bore you with what all is included in each of the experiences... if you want to know those details, look at this page of the MSC web site. So let's imagine that one of those couples just sticks with the basic Bella experience and the other couple chose to pay a little extra for the Fantastica experience. The folks that bought in to the Fantastica experience will receive paper coupons that entitle them to 12 free drinks... including beer, wine, soda, coffee, or cocktails. The folks that stuck with the basic Bella experience have to pay a la carte for any drinks they want.

 

As I said, there are several different experiences available... and when you book your MSC cruise, you get to choose which one you want. But certain cabin categories come with better experiences included at no extra charge. For example, in the case of our "Suite With Whirlpool Bath", it came standard with the best experience package short of staying in the V.I.P. section of the ship, known as The Yacht Club. (Similar to "The Haven" on Norwegian Cruise Line.)

 

Well, it took me a whole lot of words to get there, but what I'm getting at is that our "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" came with some pretty great perks included. The best ones were:

 

Free drinks from any bar on the ship

Unlimited free Gelato from any of the four places on the ship where Gelato is served

A generous amount of Internet bandwidth

Priority boarding

Flexible dining times

Access to the thermal suite in the spa

Two free 55-minute massages in the spa

Access to a special uncrowded sundeck area at the top of the ship

 

There were some other perks, too... but those were the big ones. I'm not a big drinker, but I did enjoy the drink package. From our cabin on deck 14, it was an easy walk up to a bar on deck 16 to grab a drink to bring back to our cabin and enjoy in our Jacuzzi...

Jim%20in%20Jacuzzi%20-%20IMG_7967.JPG

 

My drink of choice is Malibu rum mixed with Diet Coke. I like that they let me have the full can of Diet Coke, so I could take it back to the cabin with me and pour the extra Coke from the can after I finished the Malibu and Coke they gave me. As far as great vacation experiences go, one of my favorites is sitting in my own private Jacuzzi with my drink of choice. And doing that on MSC Seaside was tremendously more affordable than it would be on any other cruise line... so in that regard, our vacation was a success.

 

I mentioned that from our cabin on deck 14, it was easy to just walk up two flights of stairs to get to the bar at the Miami Beach pool on deck 16. There was a downside to being just two floors below the Miami Beach pool, though. There are three pools on MSC Seaside... four if you count the one that only the Yacht Club guests get to use. The Miami beach pool is the "fun" pool where they have a lot of activities. There is almost always music playing, and some of the activities they have there are noisy. With our balcony being just two floors below this, we had to put up with a LOT of noise from up there. I'd say that was one of the biggest problems with the cabin we chose. In retrospect, I probably should have chosen a cabin on one of the lower floors. I bet it would have been less noisy on the balcony. The upside of being on one of the upper floors was that we had a little more privacy on our balcony than the "suites with whirlpool bath" on the lower floors would have. The lower the floor, the more floors there are above you that can look down in to your Jacuzzi and your balcony.

 

Now let's talk about the free Gelato that is part of the Aurea Experience...

 

I know it sounds like a little thing, but being able to get free Gelato from any of the four locations that serve Gelato on MSC Seaside... that was something that we really enjoyed.

 

Gelato%20-%20South%20Beach%20-%20IMG_8262.jpg

Gelato serving station at the bar next to the South Beach pool

I guess that was one of the surprises, too... that there were four locations where they served Gelato! I knew our Aurea experience entitled us to free Gelato... but I figured there would be just one place to get it, and that it might be busy and inconvenient. But there was one by each of the three swimming pools, as well as one in the center of the ship... which was convenient when the weather was bad, or after a show in the theater. Both of us loved the Gelato, and having it every day really did make our cruise more enjoyable than other cruises we've been on, in that one regard.

 

Reading everything I've written in this thread about our "Suite With Whirlpool Bath", you'd probably conclude that we had a pretty great cruise. I will say that the suite was great... we loved the Jacuzzi, the free drinks, the Gelato, and the low price we paid for all that we got. Plus, there were several other positive things that I'll elaborate on when I post my full review with many more photos and several videos.

 

But to give you a small hint of a few things that are going to be in my full review... let me just say that Kellyn and I have been on 43 cruises, and this was the worst of them all. We hated the food and the entertainment. We experienced two different situations where MSC simply fouled everything up completely. We got incorrect answers from crew members on several different occassions... even from an officer wearing stripes. And we encountered the worst language barrier we've ever experienced on a cruise.

 

The line I kept hearing before our cruise was that MSC Seaside was being designed to appeal to the American cruise market, in an attempt to lure cruisers away from the big cruise lines like Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. After my cruise on MSC Seaside, I have to conclude that this is not really true. They designed the ship for warm weather cruising in the Caribbean. They based it in Miami to try to pick off a few passengers from the other cruise lines. But in quite a few ways, the things they do onboard are primarily designed to please MSC's large base of European customers. In a conflict between doing something the Americans like and something the Europeans will like, they do it the European way.

 

For my cruising friends in the USA, I tell you in the strongest way possible that you should cruise with Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, or even Viking Ocean Cruises. MSC is not a cruise line I would recommend for most Americans. I will elaborate on many of the reasons why in my full review, coming to this board around two weeks from now.

Edited by Spaniel Lover

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Regarding the jacuzzi, does it have a heater so that when you turn on the jets it keeps the water warm by cycling it through some sort element or is it just a standard bath tub jacuzzi?

 

Here's an interesting thing about physics that I learned from my "real job" at a nuclear power plant:

When you run water through a pump, some of the energy of the electric motor is transferred to the blades of the pump and then to the water. So, by simply running water through a pump, you will (to some degree) heat up that water. That's an important consideration when trying to cool down a nuclear power plant, but it's also an interesting bit of trivia to keep in mind when sitting in a Jacuzzi.

 

But the amount of heat added by the Jacuzzi pump is small. The easiest way to warm up the water in the Jacuzzi on the balcony is simply to add some extra hot water. Once the water level reaches a certain point, it spills out an overflow drain near the top. So, it's basically impossible to overfill the tub. Just keep adding hot water, even if the tub is full, and that will warm up the water in the Jacuzzi fairly quickly.

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Great preview.

With so many places to sleep, I wonder where those people would put their clothes?

 

 

But to give you a small hint of a few things that are going to be in my full review... let me just say that Kellyn and I have been on 43 cruises, and this was the worst of them all.

 

 

Gasp!! :eek:

Hopefully, my Yacht Club (1st MSC cruise) "experience" experience will be much better. I'm still waiting for the arrival of some furniture for my suite......

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A generous amount of Internet bandwidth !

Was this just for those Suites? We were in an Aft Aurea Suite, as far as I know after 6 cruises with MSC the wifi is not Free.

It never fails to amaze me when people write a review stating that they saved X thousands of dollars by sailing with MSC and then complain that the cruise was not like the others they have been on!

I usually find those who cannot adapt to MSC only ever want what they have at home and that includes people worldwide.

After all you don`t order a Beer and then expect Champagne.

Edited by sidari

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When two people (or more) are sharing a cabin on a cruise ship, you almost always get dressed at the same time. You wake up, and you want to go to breakfast, so you get dressed at the same time. You come back from the pool and you want to change out of your swimsuits and in to warmer clothes... at the exact same time. It's almost time for dinner, and you want to get dressed up for it... at the exact same time. So, you're almost always dressing at the exact same time. And that's really hard to do when all of your clothes are in a small walk-in closet. Now if this had been some large home on land, you could have had a walk-in closet big enough for two people to use at the same time. But this is a cruise ship, and the walk-in closet is only big enough for one person at a time. So, that's inconvenient when you both want to get dressed at the same time.

 

Why do you both have to get dressed in the closet? Surely it doesn't take much time, and would be much easier (and convenient) to go in, fetch the clothes you need, come back out and get dressed in the body of the cabin; your DH/DW goes in immediately after and fetches what they need? :confused: Or is that just too inconvenient?

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One other very important thing to understand about the 28 "Suites With Whirlpool Bath" is that these cabins come with the Aurea experience included. If you've never cruised with MSC before, you won't really understand what that means! Let's see if I can explain this in a way that folks who have only cruised with other cruise lines would understand...

OK, let's say you take a cruise with Carnival. On your first cruise, you don't get any special perks because you are a newbie. After that, you're a member of their loyalty program and there are certain perks involved. On your second Carnival cruise, they will place a complimentary bottle of water in your cabin. It's not a big perk, but it's something. As you cruise more with Carnival, you work your way up the loyalty program, and the perks get better. At the gold level, you get a special commenorative pin, plus a coupon for a free drink. At the Platinum level, you get priority check-in and boarding on embarkation day, an invitation to a special cocktail party with free drinks, and one of my favorite Carnival perks... priority assistance at the guest services desk, meaning if there's a gigantic line for assistance, you go to the front of the line. (I wish I had that on MSC Seaside the one time I got stuck in a 45 minute line at guest services!)

 

On MSC, it works a bit different. They offer several different "experiences"... such as the Bella experience, the Fantastica experience, and the Aurea experience. Each comes with different perks. And even on your first cruise, if you want one of the experiences that offers the really good perks, you can get it by either buying in to that experience, or by booking a type of cabin where that experience comes standard.

 

Let me give you an example. Imagine two different couples staying in balcony cabins next door to each other. When each of those couples booked their cruise, they got to decide which "experience" they wanted to have. For the base price of their cabin, they would get the Bella experience. But they also have the option to pay a little extra for one of three other better experiences with more perks. I won't bore you with what all is included in each of the experiences... if you want to know those details, look at this page of the MSC web site. So let's imagine that one of those couples just sticks with the basic Bella experience and the other couple chose to pay a little extra for the Fantastica experience. The folks that bought in to the Fantastica experience will receive paper coupons that entitle them to 12 free drinks... including beer, wine, soda, coffee, or cocktails. The folks that stuck with the basic Bella experience have to pay a la carte for any drinks they want.

 

As I said, there are several different experiences available... and when you book your MSC cruise, you get to choose which one you want. But certain cabin categories come with better experiences included at no extra charge. For example, in the case of our "Suite With Whirlpool Bath", it came standard with the best experience package short of staying in the V.I.P. section of the ship, known as The Yacht Club. (Similar to "The Haven" on Norwegian Cruise Line.)

 

MSC doesn't "work a bit different" at all. MSC has its own loyalty club called "Voyagers Club" which works similarly to the system you have just outllined for Carnival which offers different perks according to the level you attain. The "Experiences" on MSC have nothing to do with that. They relate to the level of cabin you book - just like hotel rooms where they go from basic to high-end, each receiving different levels of service and benefits.

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It never fails to amaze me when people write a review stating that they saved X thousands of dollars by sailing with MSC and then complain that the cruise was not like the others they have been on!

I usually find those who cannot adapt to MSC only ever want what they have at home and that includes people worldwide.

After all you don`t order a Beer and then expect Champagne.

I'm not at all surprised by your comment, given the fact that you live in the United Kingdom. You are part of MSC's core European demographic for which most of the MSC experience is geared to. My review comes from the perspective of an American, who has been delighted by 41 other cruises that were all tailored to my American tastes. On this one, I truly felt like I was on a ship I didn't belong on... it was oriented to please Europeans, not Americans.

 

 

We were in an Aft Aurea Suite, as far as I know after 6 cruises with MSC the wifi is not Free.

I stand corrected. The free Internet access I had was part of a special promotion that MSC was running at the time I booked the cruise. There was also a $150 onboard credit. Neither of those two perks were Aurea benefits. Thanks for pointing out that Internet access is not free for Aurea guests. I don't want anyone to expect that they will get free Internet access for booking the Aurea experience, only to get onboard and find out it isn't true. I regret that I made that comment in error, and I appreciate your correction.

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Hi JIm. thanks for sharing. Truly the advertising department's slogan should have stuck with "The ship that follows the sun" and left the part about being made for the American market out of it. However the only cruise we enjoyed more than this one was our Divina cruise when the elevators and bathrooms worked correctly. I have enjoyed my cruises on Holland America (Although I thought the Koningsdam was boring) and Celebrity (Loved the glass blowing but I hear they are doing way with it, I hope not) and NCL with the Grandkids and can still go on them anytime without any culture shock. But I love talking (Or at least trying to) to people from all over the world and feeling like I am truly away from home for a while. And I really enjoy the young people from all over the world who run all the games and dance classes and entertain in the lounges. Did you go to the Gatsby party in the Haven Lounge? They are all so talented. Our favorites were Sasha from Serbia, Laura from Portugal and Didi from the Dominican Republic. And I think that the quality of food in the main dining room and buffet has decreased every year since we first started cruising. The only exceptions to that are when we were in the Aqua Class on Celebrity with its separate restaurant and in the Yacht Club on this cruise. We are not foodies so we just find something to sustain us and soak up the alcohol. So I agree, this isn't a standard American cruise experience and you will probably be disappointed if that's what you want. But if you are looking for something different, you'll find it at MSC. Bob

ps - I love your writing style and enjoy your wonderful photos. You are very talented!

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You are part of MSC's core European demographic for which most of the MSC experience is geared to.

Not quite right on that really, the main cruises within Europe, ie the Med and Greek isles on MSC are geared to mainly Italians and other nationalities who fall within those areas and they do certainly food wise.

MSC ships sailing out of Gemany to the Baltic's cater more towards German speaking people, only recently have MSC begun to change their catering stance towards the UK now that they have decided to base a ship in Southampton this year.

What is somewhat laughable is hearing people on here say they want the European experience but then complain when they do not get what they have on RCI, Carnival, NCL etc.

Many people in North America appear to believe that MSC are something new, to them yes it is but they have been sailing there for quite some time out of FLL with Poesia and Orchestra.

 

I accept that not everyone will like MSC but those from the USA who we have met who do appear to be more chilled out and more able to embrace change.

 

Hi Bob ... I hope the weather has improved for you guys, MSC were right to keep the bit about being for the American market because that is where the ship will remain and where it was built for, for me it is trying to be too many things for too many people, a combination of other lines with what they have added instead of staying true to their roots with the elegance of the Fantasia class.

Making the ship shorter in length while making it wider is not the best thing they have done, add in the aft pool area and the superstructure is around 100 feet less but with more cabins and people.

Edited by sidari

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I just got back yesterday from our 7-day cruise on MSC Seaside. We stayed in a "Suite With Whirlpool Bath", which is a much-larger-than-normal balcony cabin, with a Jacuzzi on the balcony. There are 28 of them on MSC Seaside.

 

For months and months before our cruise, I researched everything I could about that type of cabin, and by the time the cruise came along I thought knew exactly what to expect. But it turns out that there were some surprises that I didn't learn about in my research! I thought I'd share them here.

 

In case you haven't seen

I made several months ago in which I explain all the cool things about these cabins... let me just say that on most cruise ships, if you want a cabin with its own private Jacuzzi, you're going to have to pay a LOT of money. The most expensive suites on quite a few cruise ships will have a private Jacuzzi, but you're generally talking about somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for those kind of high-end suites. The cheapest cabin I ever found with its own Jacuzzi was the Haven Spa Suite on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. That would set you back roughly $6000 for a week, during the cheapest weeks of the year. So, I got pretty excited when I booked the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" on MSC Seaside for a little over $3000. I don't know if they can still be had that cheaply, but that's what I paid when I booked my cruise... about a year ago.

 

In my research, during the ship's construction, the only visuals of the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" that I had to go by were these artist's renderings:

 

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20Balcony%20-%20Wide%20Shot.jpg

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20Balcony.jpg

 

Suite%20With%20Whirlpool%20-%20interior.jpg

Those were the photos on which I based my decision to book the cabin. That Jacuzzi looked great! I wasn't too wild about the purple color scheme inside the cabin, but it certainly wasn't a dealbreaker.

 

During the final weeks of the ship's construction, real photos of MSC Seaside started to trickle out to Facebook, Instagram, etc.

One in particular had me VERY worried:

 

FB_IMG_1511911064414.jpg

The photo had been taken at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy when the ship was under construction. I have no idea who the guy was. I found it on Facebook by simply searching for the hashtag #MSCSeaside. It was the first photo I had seen of the actual Jacuzzi on the balcony... everything I had seen prior to that had been an artist's rendering.

 

Based on that photo, I worried that the Jacuzzi on the balcony was going to turn out to be tiny... not large enough for two people (my wife and I) to share. Sharing the Jacuzzi was the whole reason I had booked that cabin. So, for several weeks prior to our cruise, I was really worried that the Jacuzzi on our balcony was going to end up being a disappointment.

 

Once we got onboard MSC Seaside and were able to get in to our cabin, the very first thing I did was head out to the balcony and take a look at the Jacuzzi. It was much larger than that previous photo made it appear. Before long, I turned on the water spouts to fill up the Jacuzzi. It takes about 20 minutes to fill it with water. The water spouts are very similar to what you'd have on a bath tub at home... you control the mixture of hot and cold, so you can make the water in the Jacuzzi be any temperature you want. Once the tub was full, my wife and I changed in to our swimsuits, and climbed in. As soon as we were in it, it was quite clear that not only was there room for two in there... but perhaps even three.

 

Jacuzzi%20-%20IMG_7954.jpg

 

So, our first surprise was a positive one. While the Jacuzzi didn't really look like the one they showed in the artist's renderings... for example, there was no wooden step to help you get in to it... that Jacuzzi was basically the best part of our entire cruise. We loved relaxing in it, having a nice conversation, and enjoying the view. On most days, we used it twice a day.

 

I'll take a little break right here... and in my next post in this thread, I'll tell you about the other surprising things we discovered about the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath".

 

By the way, my real name is Jim Zimmerlin... everyone calls me Jim Zim... and my wife's name is Kellyn. (It rhymes with Helen)

 

I'll be posting a full review of our cruise... but it's going to take time to put together. I shot 440 photos and 550 video clips during our cruise! I've got to figure out which ones are "keepers"... tweak the photos, and edit the video clips in to a couple of videos that tell a story. And starting tomorrow, I'm back at my real job 40 hours a week! So, my full review is probably two weeks away... but I couldn't wait to tell you right away about the "Suite With Whirlpool Bath" and the things about it that surprised me.

 

 

Looking forward to your full review.

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I am loving your review so far . We always enjoy your videos on YouTube . I must confess I was disappointed to hear that you and your wife didn't love your time on the Seaside . I had hoped for some glowing review .

 

However , that being said , I appreciate the time you put into your sharing your experience and I know that what you share comes with a fair and balanced perspective . You don't share reviews simply to bash a cruise line and I appreciate that .

 

I am sincerely anxious to hear and see the rest of your review .

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I have to say that your Aurea suite with whirlpool bath looked to be designed better and actually looked nicer than the one we had on the Meraviglia. Only we had a shower and not a bath but yeah having a shower in the bath with only a qtr door is a bit crazy!

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I think the the half door on the shower is a European thing. I think I encountered this at some hotels in the UK. Someone on one of these threads or youtube told me, 'it was no big deal, water stayed in shower', but my findings were like those of Jimzim--water went all over the place, and it was annoying.

 

Incidentally, the Seaside causes me to have a lot of mixed feelings. That whirlpool room looks incredible--but I think having a really good dinner buffet is important when mdr dinner takes 1.5-2 hours.

 

We just did Hal Koningsdam over new year's and thought it was great. There were lots of kids and families, so I wonder if things are a tad 'livelier' over school breaks? The service was excellent, food at the lido was excellent (took a bit of getting used to since they serve it), and the entertainment was similar to other cruises we've done (although no gymnasts/aerialists like some cruiselines use). Wife and daughter went to a couple cooking demonstrations. It didn't seem like a 'cruise for 80 year olds'.

 

CtBob--did you do Koningsdam over a school break? Just curious what you found boring relative to other cruises. The main pool area was definitely quieter and calmer than other cruises we've done. For some that'd be boring, we kind of liked it though.

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CtBob--did you do Koningsdam over a school break? Just curious what you found boring relative to other cruises. The main pool area was definitely quieter and calmer than other cruises we've done. For some that'd be boring, we kind of liked it though.

Not over a school break and that would have helped. The Cruise Director and his assistant was the entire entertainment staff. Therefore they had very few activities during the day. The Cruise Director didn't even show up for most of the theater events. We just heard a recorded voice announce the show. And the best act was a comic and I don't usually like comics. The singers and dancers were good but there were not very many of them and they were only used once on our cruise. And as the ship was new, they didn't use their new hi-tech theater to their advantage. I thought the atrium was a terrible design and wasted space. All in all I enjoyed my cruise there, I just like the MSC product better. We are retired and relax at home, when I go on a cruise I want to be entertained. Bob

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Not over a school break and that would have helped. The Cruise Director and his assistant was the entire entertainment staff. Therefore they had very few activities during the day. The Cruise Director didn't even show up for most of the theater events. We just heard a recorded voice announce the show. And the best act was a comic and I don't usually like comics. The singers and dancers were good but there were not very many of them and they were only used once on our cruise. And as the ship was new, they didn't use their new hi-tech theater to their advantage. I thought the atrium was a terrible design and wasted space. All in all I enjoyed my cruise there, I just like the MSC product better. We are retired and relax at home, when I go on a cruise I want to be entertained. Bob

 

Interesting. It was very different over New Years. The CD was Christina Purcell, and she and her assistant were all over the ship, at numerous shows/events/trivia. They had probably a normal amount of day activities (one was even a kitchen tour, free of charge!, but it was like 200 people so they could really only let us sort of parade through the kitchen and look at things). They did have a couple of theater shows that used all the light-up walls. Sounds like it's definitely more lively now than when you took it. It's possible that it goes back into slumber when kids are in school, but seems more likely that our weekly schedule is what it does week in-week out now.

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Hi Jim Zim: I have been waiting impatiently for your review of the SJ3 suite which I have booked for Feb 19. The whirlpool is a surprise for my wife who has always wanted to holiday with a private hot tub(and me!). Your review is very informative and I am relieved the tub is big enough for two. However, I think there is a lot of wasted space in that suite but maybe if you have 5 folks in it, it makes sense.

 

We have cruised 5 times with MSC in Europe and I get what you mean. We have enjoyed all of our cruises but there are always some compromises with MSC. We have sailed with RCCL and NCL too (they're not perfect either) and it is only price/value that brings us back to MSC time after time as we get a 5% discount as members of the Voyagers Club(past cruisers).

 

Really looking forward to the review, warts and all! Cheers, Ken.

Edited by CruiseIreland

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The whirlpool is a surprise for my wife who has always wanted to holiday with a private hot tub(and me!)

 

Ken - how lovely. I hope you manage to keep it a surprise. It'll be a terrific belated Valentine's Day "gift".

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Hi Jim Zim: I have been waiting impatiently for your review of the SJ3 suite which I have booked for Feb 19. The whirlpool is a surprise for my wife who has always wanted to holiday with a private hot tub(and me!). Your review is very informative and I am relieved the tub is big enough for two. However, I think there is a lot of wasted space in that suite but maybe if you have 5 folks in it, it makes sense.

 

We have cruised 5 times with MSC in Europe and I get what you mean. We have enjoyed all of our cruises but there are always some compromises with MSC. We have sailed with RCCL and NCL too (they're not perfect either) and it is only price/value that brings us back to MSC time after time as we get a 5% discount as members of the Voyagers Club(past cruisers).

 

Really looking forward to the review, warts and all! Cheers, Ken.

 

I have to agree with this, and the comments earlier in the thread about cost vs experience given. It all depends on your priorities. I know when I book MSC for 30% less than the same NCL cruise, I won't enjoy the food as much, and the standard drinks package is more limiting. I also know that the shipboard experience isn't always why I book a particular cruise. For example, I am cruising Orchestra at the end of February - not my first choice of cruise line or ship, but I really like the itinerary and I'm looking forward to some winter sun. I've sailed MSC before, and I know its shortcomings.

 

 

I appreciate if something has been advertised to you and really built up as being fantastic and unbeatable, and the reality doesn't match up to that, you're going to be disappointed. BUT it's sometimes a struggle to find better value for the same time/itinerary etc. than an MSC cruise. I book all my MSC cruises know with expectations firmly set, and emphasis on why I'm going (like in this case it's for the destinations). I imagine a number of people who say they won't sail MSC after their first experience may reconsider if they see it at a far superior price to their 'usual' line - I have no problem in saying I've done that on a few occasions.

 

 

Sometimes it's worth paying the extra to get what you really want, and sometimes it's not - although that is easier to say as a regular cruiser than someone going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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Thanks for the review! may have to book this for next cruise.

Umm how tall are you guys?

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Thanks for posting those great pictures, JimZim! I look forward to the rest of your review. in particular, I am interested in hearing what about the ship/experience was 'European' rather than 'American' and how you felt that your 'American expectations' were not met. I've heard this comment before with very little in the way of specifics (other than the suggestions that Europeans prefer later dining times, slower dining and smaller portions as compared to Americans).

 

Regardless, your cabin and whirlpool and the gelato all look amazing! I am looking forward to those things on our upcoming Seaside cruise in June.

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Europeans do not prefer smaller food portions! MSC reduced the sizes after complaints that they were to big. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

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Great review! This suite is so far, the only reason i even consider MSC, and maybe a little because of the ship design :)

 

I am also very interested in what "European cruising experience" means?

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Europeans do not prefer smaller food portions! MSC reduced the sizes after complaints that they were to big. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

 

Good to hear!

 

I diet like crazy when I am not vacationing/on holiday and when I get onboard I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy my food... and a LOT of food. I am not ashamed to ask for multiple entrees, so smaller portions doesn't bother me so much. ;)

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Ken - how lovely. I hope you manage to keep it a surprise. It'll be a terrific belated Valentine's Day "gift".

Cheers Bea! It'll be a special retirement trip for us both too! She won't know about the whirlpool until we enter the suite!! Romantic or wha!!:cool:

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Excellent posts Jim Zim, and I look forward to watching your Youtube videos as well.

 

I think the biggest mess up MSC has done has been to exclaim they are going for the American cruise market when they aren't. People keep seeming to be upset that Americans are expecting a specific type of experience when it was MSC that set the expectation. We have a cruise booked for December and I am almost to the point where we just might have to ditch it and try something else. This will be cruise number 21 for me and I was hoping my "worst" experiences were well behind me.

 

Thanks for the head's up.

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DAjedu ... The problem is very many of you do not do your homework on MSC and cry foul when it turns out that their product is not the same as the US owned cruise lines, there is a reason that MSC are way cheaper than the rest and it is not MSC who gave people the expectation that they would get the same product for a lower price, that is reserved for the people expecting it to be.

If MSC sold at the same price point as the others then I could understand the genuine complaints but the truth is that there are many people who are incapable of change and cannot adapt, why do they find it so difficult to sit down and have a meal take 1.5 to 2 hours? what is the rush do you have somewhere to be, do you have a meeting scheduled? you are on holiday for goodness sake, do what the rest of us do and relax ... :cool:

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DAjedu ... The problem is very many of you do not do your homework on MSC and cry foul when it turns out that their product is not the same as the US owned cruise lines, there is a reason that MSC are way cheaper than the rest and it is not MSC who gave people the expectation that they would get the same product for a lower price, that is reserved for the people expecting it to be.

If MSC sold at the same price point as the others then I could understand the genuine complaints but the truth is that there are many people who are incapable of change and cannot adapt, why do they find it so difficult to sit down and have a meal take 1.5 to 2 hours? what is the rush do you have somewhere to be, do you have a meeting scheduled? you are on holiday for goodness sake, do what the rest of us do and relax ... :cool:

 

Actually, isn't that the point of this board - doing homework? A big problem is that there isn't a lot of information coming from MSC and what comes forth is inconsistent. Zipline is free, then there is a charge. Still don't know if there is a charge for the board slide. Inconsistent information on whether or not there is an all inclusive charge for entertainment as is done on other ships. Still can't figure out exactly how much various things actually cost. I have been researching like crazy - and the answer is different depending on who you talk to, even when talking with MSC customer service.

 

So, it is kind of frustrating when not even the company's own customer service can answer what to me appears to be simple questions.

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Actually, isn't that the point of this board - doing homework? A big problem is that there isn't a lot of information coming from MSC and what comes forth is inconsistent. Zipline is free, then there is a charge. Still don't know if there is a charge for the board slide. Inconsistent information on whether or not there is an all inclusive charge for entertainment as is done on other ships. Still can't figure out exactly how much various things actually cost. I have been researching like crazy - and the answer is different depending on who you talk to, even when talking with MSC customer service.

 

 

 

So, it is kind of frustrating when not even the company's own customer service can answer what to me appears to be simple questions.

 

 

 

Amen.

I’ve learned my lesson well.

 

 

<><

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Jim, were u ever on the divina?

 

No. I read a lot of CruiseCritic reviews of the Divina, and they scared me off.

Seaside was my first experience with MSC, and after our week onboard my wife made me promise that it would be our last. We've been happy with Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and even Viking Ocean Cruises. We'll stick with them until Virgin Voyages comes out, and then we'll probably want to see what Richard Branson's version of cruising is like.

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