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MSC Seaside Yacht Club Review and Pics!


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Ever since my first glimpse of the MSC Seaside renderings I knew she was a ship I wanted to sail. Based on the renderings it looked like Fincantieri’s innovative Project Mille class of ships might finally get built. What makes this design so unique is that it’s not simply a floating box, as is the case with so many new cruise ships today. Instead we have a ship that actually has interesting lines, from the bow all the way back to the stern. In between a condo style superstructure that jets in and out creating a very unique look. Topside a generous amount of deck space, and even more open deck space on the lower decks with a mega-wide promenade deck and even an aft pool fairly close to the waterline. The internal arrangement also proved interesting, with much smaller and varied venues instead of overly massive ones. Even the show lounge is purposely smaller but with more frequent shows. The main buffet was moved down to the promenade deck, something I’ve only seen on QM2 in a modern ship, but in a unique twist a second buffet was added. All the speciality restaurants are grouped around a central bar area and placed high on the ship. Finally lots of pools to go with all that deck space. A forward pool reserved for the exclusive Yacht Club, and indoor/outdoor large pool with retractable magrodome, a main pool placed slightly aft, and finally a unique pool placed all the way aft and on a lower deck, much closer to the waterline. In addition a large waterpark cleverly concealed and protected within the aft enclosure of the ship’s funnel. The gimmicks are few but some exist. You won’t find bumper cars, rock climbing walls, or a race track; but you will find the two longest zip lines at sea. In addition there are water slides jetting over the side of the ship and some glass walkways providing striking views, but generally the gimmicks are few on Seaside and frankly I appreciate that. She is a ship for those that appreciate fun in the sun, and her outdoor decks are expansive and varied. I think that is one of her strongest design features.

I’ve been enjoying cruises for about 40 years now, and in that time I’ve accumulated about 125 cruises on various ships and lines. I’m not loyal to any one line, and my weakness is new prototype ships. If there is a stunning new design, I’m likely to be booking my next cruise. Seaside certainly fit that bill, and moving forward we have some great new designs to look forward to. Virgin’s new ship and NCL’s new Leonardo Class both look modeled after Seaside and Fincantieri’s Project Mille. I’ll be sailing on both and it will be interesting to compare their adaptations on this unique design. The Virgin version is especially of interest as the first ship will be adult-only. That is very appealing to me. First though is the new Celebrity Edge making her debut later this year, and that is the next prototype ship that is heavy on my radar. She looks incredible and Celebrity rarely disappoints.

So with expectations high we booked Seaside and decided on the Yacht Club. The price was about equal for a standard balcony cabin or a Yacht Club inside cabin. After weighing the pros and cons, the Yacht Club won out. On a 5000+ mega-ship it’s nice to be able to escape to the solitude and spaciousness of a private area. Really more than anything you are paying for space, which is always at a premium on a mega-ship. The Haven on NCL is the closest equivalent to MSC’s Yacht Club, and having already experienced The Haven I was quite familiar with the benefits of a “ship within a ship” concept. Another reason for the Yacht Club appeal is that generally speaking, MSC does not have the best reputation for food and service, and we hoped the Yacht Club would mitigate those concerns. Having sailed on two previous MSC cruises, we were already familiar with some of MSC’s shortfalls. Nothing that would prevent me from booking MSC, but something to be aware of none the less. MSC is a European value line making strides to become more prominent in North America. They have greatly altered the North American product compared to their European based ships, but MSC is not Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, etc. and doesn’t pretend to be. Things are done a little differently and the passenger mix is much more international. If you go with the mindset that it will be just like one of those American-centric cruise lines you might be disappointed. Do your homework, read reviews, and discover some of the differences. If they are a deal breaker for you, then stick with what you know. Personally I embrace the differences and perhaps it’s one reason I do enjoy MSC. As I mentioned earlier I’m not loyal to any one cruise line. I love the variety that they all offer, and I’m happy to have MSC as another option right in my back yard.

Embarkation in PortMiami was from MSC’s newly renovated Terminal F. The Yacht Club has a tent just outside the terminal entrance and that is where you drop off your bags. From there you are escorted through security then upstairs to the private Yacht Club embarkation lounge. Inside there is sparkling wine, juice, and snacks while waiting to be checked in. Once those formalities are complete a butler escorts you onboard and directly up to the Yacht Club for a quick orientation then on to your cabin and an introduction to your personal butler for the week. All in all it would be difficult to top this embarkation experience, especially when you consider how big and how many people this ship carries. In various ports of call there would often be a Yacht Club representative outside the gangway with a Yacht Club sign. You could go to them and they would expedite you onboard the ship which was a nice touch. MSC markets our Yacht Club inside cabin as a “suite”, but I already knew this was no suite going in. Basically a slightly longer standard inside cabin with upgraded carpet, bedding, towels, and amenities. Overall I was quite pleased with the cabin (16025) with a couple exceptions. Storage space was minimal. The closet was fine but no other drawers, shelves, or cubby holes. This is a problem shared by every standard cabin on the ship. We literally had to make use of all available space including under the bed. There was only one chair and a nice coffee table although there could have easily been room for two chairs, or a sofa instead of the chairs. Sparkling wine and fresh fruit were waiting. The bathroom was small, again standard size but with an extra rain shower type shower head and a magnifying mirror which are absent from standard bathrooms. In addition we had upgraded soaps and shampoos along with lotion. Cabin service was excellent and completely unobtrusive. The cabin itself was extremely quiet. We made little use of our butler, but he did bring almost nightly turn down treats along with stocking the refrigerator to our preferences. One nice feature of the Yacht Club that I haven’t seen even on some luxury lines is morning delivery of a newspaper of your choice. The room service menu and breakfast hanging card were ok with their offerings, but certainly nothing special or extravagant. We found it odd that made to order eggs were not part of the room service breakfast menu. An egg sandwich was your only egg option. This is one area where a true luxury line out shadows the Yacht Club. The room service menu would be far more extensive and you could be served course by course should you choose to be. Mind you that would be rather silly in an inside cabin! We basically had to sit on the floor to eat the one time we ordered room service.

Food is a highly subjective topic. Ask 10 people about the same dish and be prepared for 10 different responses. For this reason I won’t spend too much time on it. Overall I found the food on Seaside to be adequate but nothing special. There were some standouts, like steak, pastas, deserts, and bread. I found all those to be fairly exceptional especially the steak we enjoyed in Butcher’s Cut one evening. The variety could sometimes be lacking and other more American-centric lines do offer more nightly choices on the menu. None the less no one will starve and you could always find something that interested you. Within the Yacht Club, we enjoyed our own restaurant that was open seating and available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Essentially you dine when you want (within the open hours) and with whom. Funny enough, we ended up dining at the same 2 to 3 tables the entire cruise, always in Arthur’s section who was one of the best and most entertaining waiters in all my years of cruising. Wow did we luck out getting him our first night onboard, although I’m sure the other Yacht Club waiters were exceptional as well. Other options within the Yacht Club were a small buffet adjacent to the Top Sail Lounge bar, and the Grill up on Deck 19 by the pool. I enjoyed the fresh grilled specialities at the Grill, yes even lobster and lamb chops, but oddly enough if I wanted a simple burger I had to dine in the more former indoor restaurant or go to the general buffet for the ship. My cravings for a burger did lure me more than once to the Marketplace Buffet, where I found them pretty good along with excellent fries. In the main buffet we never had a problem finding a seat and the option to sit outside was welcomed in great weather. Towards the back of the buffet they had dispensers for soda, beer, and wine. All automated. Just wave your card or wrist band over the control panel and it would activate. Because we were in the Yacht Club all our beverages were included, but were they not you would have been charged at that point. One feature MSC has deployed to gain market share in North America is a status match program. Before your cruise just submit your highest status at a cruise line or hotel chain, and MSC will match it. My Elite status on Princess was matched with Black on MSC, currently their highest level. This entitled us to a complimentary dinner in a speciality restaurant. We chose Butcher’s Cut being steak lovers, and we were not disappointed. It was an excellent dinner beginning to end. Another favorite option sometimes after dinner or even in the afternoon was Venchi the chocolate bar onboard. Many chocolate items (such as the chocolate ships) are made right onboard, and it’s fun to watch them getting made. There is even a wall of chocolate, although it was never working the entire cruise. My favorite was a chocolate/strawberry milkshake made with their excellent gelato. Just decadent especially with the fresh and real whipped cream on top. The best part, it was all included being part of the Yacht Club. Service generally goes hand and hand with any dining experience, so I’ll mention that overall I found the service to be excellent. This was especially true in the Yacht Club where everyone was beyond polite and helpful, and always seemed willing to do whatever it took to make you happy. Around the rest of the ship service was great as well, with a crew that smiled and generally seemed happy to assist you. Another nice feature of the Yacht Club was our own Concierge Desk. They basically handled any request, so there was never a need to wait in the line at the general Guest Services or Shore Excursion desks.

Entertainment onboard was varied and excellent in my opinion. I looked forward to all the production shows and none disappointed. I can say that most others enjoyed the productions as well as every single one received a standing ovation. One evening was a shortened version of Madame Butterfly that I quite enjoyed. Very unusual to find an opera onboard a mass-market cruise ship, but MSC was proud to offer it and with good reason. In large part what made the shows so successful were the talented performers. Singers that could actually sing and dancers that could truly dance. I found these performers to be more Broadway calibre than typical cruise ship standard. The theater size is smaller but to make up for the smaller venue there are more performances offered, usually three a night at a time that will work for you. Some are repeated later in the cruise. I’ve found the new ships of NCL have gone with the smaller showrooms as well along with more performances. The shows are shorter, only 30-40 minutes which means they can offer more of them. I really enjoyed this format and found them all just long enough. Along with Disney, Royal Caribbean, and certain shows on NCL these ranked as my favorite shows at sea. Reservations are required through the MSC For Me app or interactive screens, and more on that later. Other entertainment ranged from the nightly violinist and pianist in the Yacht Club Top Sail Lounge to game shows, comedians, theme dance parties, and a nightly disco. Sometimes the disco was inside in the Garage Club, and other times outside at the South Beach pool bar. Keep this in mind if booking one of those aft view balconies. Movies were shown nightly at the large outdoor screen but with virtually no seating they were not well attended. A favorite venue onboard was the Seaside Lounge with the nightly smooth sounds of the Silk Jazz Trio. I really enjoyed their music. During the day I made good use of the spa daily, and found the thermal suite area one of the best of any ship I’ve sailed. Visually pleasing, there are two types of saunas, two types of steam rooms, a snow room, salt room, heated loungers, outdoor private deck with hot tubs, a thalassotherapy pool, and the Geyser Kneipp, an interesting water experience I’ve never seen before. Access to the Spa’s thermal suite was included as part of our Yacht Club amenities, and a simple swipe of my key card or wrist band granted me access.

As a bit of a techie, I need to make mention of the technology onboard. I was impressed. I found Seaside probably the most technologically advanced ship I have ever sailed, and this includes the newest and largest Royal Caribbean ship the Harmony of the Seas which I would say comes in a close second. I pre-purchased a very reasonable Internet package called the Surfer Package (one of three available). Priced at $44.90 for the entire cruise, it offered a total of 800MB on two devices with access to everything but audio & video streaming. In reality I had 2500MB at my disposal and I’m not sure why I was given the higher amount? At the end of the cruise I didn’t use even half the allotted amount, and this with uploading lots of pictures and using the internet multiple times a day. Initial setup was extremely simple and the MSC system recognized I had already pre-purchased a package. After the initial log-on it remembered my device and I never had to log-on again, just push the “start” and “stop” buttons on the app to begin or end my external internet sessions. Keep in mind that an internet package is not required to access the general onboard services of the MSC For Me app, that is completely free. Speed was excellent (about as fast as Voom on Royal Caribbean) and I had no interruptions or dead zones, which has been common on other ships. Some little things, like waving your cruise card or wrist band instead of swiping them are nice touch. Some things I’ve never seen before on any ship, such as the camera phone in my cabin where I could FaceTime with fellow passengers. With Blue Tooth enabled on your smart phone, your exact location on the ship was always known. This will come in handy when eventually you will be able to order drinks from your phone (using the MSC For Me app) and have them delivered directly to you. Princess is already experimenting with this with their Ocean Medallion program which so far has had its share of teething pains and has been scaled back. Another first was the card slot in the cabin to activate electricity. The trick of using any frequent shopper card in the slot no longer works on Seaside. It now requires an RFID card such as the MSC cruise card to activate the electricity in the cabin. The frustrating thing about this is that you could not charge your electronic devices unless you were in the cabin. Still a great way to conserve electricity and fuel. Ground zero for all the onboard technology is the MSC For Me app. Easy to use and well laid out, you can do everything from booking shows and speciality restaurants, to looking at your shipboard account or even finding your current exact location onboard. You could also peruse the Daily Planner of activities or look at the dinner menu for that evening. Hand in hand with the app are the various interactive information screens around the ship, and the TV in your cabin. They essentially worked the same way, providing another option for those that don’t use smart phones or prefer not to carry one around. For those in the Yacht Club, you also receive a wrist band which serves the same purpose as the cabin key card, with the exception of getting on and off the ship. I used the wrist band quite often as it was convenient not to have to carry anything in my pockets. For those in the Yacht Club, the two forward elevators (one in each bank port and starboard) have priority control using your cruise card or wrist band. There were two problems with this. One is that you are never given a tutorial of how it actually works or even that it exists, and second is the way that it’s programmed. Basically when you waved your card or wrist band over the reader just below the call button it would grant priority access to the elevator, wiping out all floor selections of those already in the elevator and bringing it directly to your floor. Now if you stepped on without again waving your card over the reader inside the elevator, nothing would happen and it would appear the elevator had shut down. Everyone would get off and wait for another elevator, understandably frustrated. Eventually it would reset in a couple minutes. In fact you had to wave your card again inside the elevator and make a floor selection. Needless to say I used this feature rather sparingly as you might often be met with an elevator full of confused and pissed off people wondering why their floor was missed. Priority lift access aside, I would say the technology onboard worked quite flawlessly and effortlessly. I swiped my card all over the ship but was never wrongfully charged as the system knew everything was included in my Yacht Club package.

If there is one word to sum up the decor on Seaside, it would be “Glitzy”. This is a flashy, modern, high tech floating resort with lots of mirrors, chrome, glass, dramatic lighting and unique furnishings. The furnishings were so unique in fact that I created a special photo album just to showcase them. Overall I loved the design and decor of the ship, but if you’re a traditionalist that prefers more understated decor this is not the ship for you. Thankfully I enjoy both and I’m equally comfortable on a ship such as Seaside as I am on Cunard. Personally I found the ship easy to get around but I had been studying the deck plan for months prior. Even so some of the flashy decor can be a little confusing when learning your way around, but fairly quickly I felt right at home. One great thing about the design is the amount of glass and views to the ocean. Seaside is definitely a ship that is open to the sea, and you can see the ocean from just about everywhere. Even the atrium has windows to the ocean on both sides, on every deck with lots of seating areas. It makes for a very impressive vantage point inside and out. Overall the general arrangement of lounges, bars, and restaurants is fairly straight forward with one exception. Up on Deck 16 the forward section is dedicated to the cluster of speciality restaurants situated around a central bar. It works very well and is accessed by the forward elevator banks. The more aft section of Deck 16 is the Miami Beach Pool and just forward the Biscayne Bay Buffet. This is accessed by the aft or more midships set of elevators. You can’t walk between the two sections, so essentially Deck 16 is cut off into two sections. Technically there are doors port and starboard that connect the Biscayne Bar Buffet to the speciality restaurants forward, and I used them, but they are for crew only. So generally it means going up or down a deck, then forward or back, then back up or down to access the area of Deck 16 you wish to reach. Having already studied the deck plan in advance I was prepared for this so not a big deal. Another great advantage of the Yacht Club was the beautiful forward facing, two level Top Sail Lounge and restaurant. The lounge and bar were on the first level, along with an outdoor deck overlooking the bow. The upper level was the restaurant connected to the lounge with a beautiful Swarovski crystal staircase. A massive two-level glass forward facing wall provided the exceptional views. Unfortunately for those not in the Yacht Club, there is no forward facing view that is accessible on the ship, unless you have a forward facing view cabin.

This was an Eastern Caribbean cruise departing Miami on January 20, 2018 to St Thomas, Antigua, and Nassau. When we initially booked the ports were a little different, but with a couple hurricanes some itinerary adjustments were necessary. One port that would have really interested me is Ocean Cay, the private island that MSC is developing in the Bahamas. This port was initially on our itinerary when we first booked, but it became obvious fairly quickly it would never be ready in time. The development timetable has been adjusted a few times now, and I’m not actually sure when this new private island experience will be completed. I’m not even sure MSC is. We docked at each port and tenders were never required. As this cruise was all about the ship for me and I’ve been to these ports countless times, I really didn’t do much off the ship. Basically wondered around in each port but that was it. My priority was time spent on the ship, and I also love the atmosphere on the ship when the vast majority of passengers are ashore. It takes on a entirely different feel.

Back in Miami our disembarkation was as effortless as embarkation, maybe even more so. Perhaps one of the best disembarkation experiences of any ship I’ve sailed. We were requested to vacate our cabins by 8am which we did. After a leisurely breakfast in the Yacht Club restaurant and enjoying the company of Arthur one last time, we were escorted down to the gangway by one of the Yacht Club butlers. There was no line at all to get off the ship. We quickly retrieved our bags in the Yacht Club section of the terminal (closest to the exit) and proceeded through CBP, which again had no line. With no forms required, we simply presented our passports and were waved though. Next thing you know we were in the car and driving home. Effortless and efficient.

As with any cruise, MSC Seaside was not perfect. Cuisine could be upgraded and storage in the cabins could be better, but overall I would rate it a fantastic experience especially for what we paid. The Yacht Club inside cabins are a fantastic value, taking advantage of being pretty much all-inclusive while also receiving the special treatment and upgraded service & amenities. All this without breaking the bank. I’m certainly pleased with our decision, and I hope to someday return to Seaside, perhaps in a regular balcony cabin to compare how the experience differs. I think either way I would enjoy this special ship filled with energy and visual delight!

For those that haven’t viewed the photos, here are the three links:

Over 600 ship pics!

Daily programs and menus:

The unique seating styles of MSC Seaside:

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Wow!! What a fantastic and informative review!! So fortunate to have someone like you to provide concise and objective feedback along with the links to photos and dailies....All in one location! I have a YC balcony cabin booked on the 3/24 sailing and I am beyond excited after reading this!!


I ....like you love new ships and new designs. When I saw the prototypes of the Seaside....It was breathtaking and I had to cruise her. I also found it unique to see a 2 sided set of stairs....and it proves your point in the design of the ship and width of the outside decks.


Thank you!!!!

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Thank you for this excellent and informative review!

I have read about those shut down elevators - great tip! I am not sure if I would’ve thought of waving the card/wristband inside the elevator, as well.

Not that I am planning on using this feature much. :-)

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Ernie, thanks for the review. It takes me back to my great time in a YC inside cabin a few weeks ago. You were very lucky to get Arthur as your waiter by chance. We requested him on the recommendation of another CCer and had the best time with him. Sounds like your experience was similar to mine except that we had very poor weather. And a special thanks for the photos. I especially like your study of the many unique seating options on the Seaside. Bob

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Because of your wonderful review we decided to switch to a YC inside. I just got my confirmation and it says that it comes with the Classic Drink package, not the Deluxe and that it does not include Gelato. Is this correct?




That is not correct. The Yacht Club automatically includes the deluxe drink package.

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