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WonderMan3

LIVE from 9/13 Bellissima and 9/21 Seaview - 7nt Med cruises - Yacht Club

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18 hours ago, WonderMan3 said:

Mike had the lobster bisque which he said had no lobster meat and was not very good. For the entree had the beef filet. Based on the poor beef I had at YC

Dear Wonder, I am sorry.  I thought the quote from the great 'man of letters' Dr. Samuel Johnson was just referring to crew members when he said " Being in a ship is being in jail, with the chance of being drowned...A man in jail has more room, better food and commonly better company." I guess we can extend this to passengers in the 21st century.

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On 9/30/2019 at 10:02 PM, WonderMan3 said:

more people started to push their way on. We finally had to yell at some people to stop that there was no more room.

 

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On 9/30/2019 at 10:02 PM, WonderMan3 said:

a group of three kids, all under 12 with no parents around, showed up and were eyeing the hot tubs. They kept hanging around in the area near our tub. Mike had noticed kids hogging up the hot tubs frequently

 

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18 hours ago, WonderMan3 said:

It took three different people to take our order (the server assistant, the server, and then a sommelier) before someone understood enough to put the order through to the bar.

 

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On 9/30/2019 at 10:02 PM, WonderMan3 said:

Another example is right about the same time some jerk who was in one of the cabanas was walking around the deck in our area talking very loudly on a cellphone. He then proceeded to sit down, not in his cabana, but on a random chair not far from our own and lit up a cigarette; that was not a smoking area.

Felt I had to pick out more examples and do not yet know how to multiple quote

Edited by rattanchair

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I am determined to finish this little blog even though it’s about a week behind now, lol.

 

Anyway, picking up with last week Wednesday the 25th...

 

We had our earliest wake up of the trip on this day in Civitavecchia, rising at 5:15am as we had to meet our guide at 7:30am. We had breakfast at the Yacht Club dining room again as luckily they start serving at 6:30am. I decided to switch it up and try the waffle instead of an egg dish. It was okay but the waffle was not hot and was just like the ones you’d find sitting in the warming bin at the buffets. Bacon was still chewy as usually, etc. Once ready to go for our day we stopped at the concierge desk to verify the departure deck. No one insisted that we be escorted by a butler off ship this time and we found our way just fine. 

 

We met our guide, Stefano, near the terminal exit. I had reserved a driver guide through Rome In Limo. We have used them on our European trips the past two years for driver guides and airport transfers and have been very satisfied with them. Stefano continued that satisfaction as he proved to be an extremely pleasant and knowledgeable guide. It actually accentuated even further how mediocre our driver guide Cristian was the prior two days. We engaged in conversation with Stefano nearly the entire driving time on information about the sites we were going to visit as well as Italian culture, politics both Italian and American, our own personal experiences, etc. Like our guide Nick in Malta we felt very comfortable with Stefano. We were surprised to learn that he had actually visited our own hometown of Provincetown. Most of the guides we have had never heard of the town let alone visited. 

 

Our itinerary for the day was to visit two historic sites in Tivoli, a suburb of Rome. The first was the Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), which were the ruins of the massive villa complex of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Then we visited Villa d’Este, an estate from the 1500’s renowned for its beautiful gardens full of fountains. The drive from Civitavecchia to Tivoli is normally about 90 minutes but this was a weekday morning so we had to deal with Rome’s rush hour traffic. That added around 40 minutes to our travel time as Stefano had to drive right through central Rome due to two accidents backing up the traffic. Upon arriving to Villa Adriana, Stefano helped us buy our tickets and encouraged us to get the audio guide to help explain what we were seeing as we walked around. The site is huge, set on around 200 acres. We spent about two hours walking around but had to keep a brisk pace and skipped over a few sites. If we had not had the traffic delay the extra half hour would’ve given us time to see everything. We got to see all the important sites. The signage within the complex was terrible. The signs didn’t always match up with the audioguide numbers, there were not clear directions to go from one site to the next, some sites were missing signs altogether. We just gave up on the audioguide after a few sites as we couldn’t keep the sites in order and it was cumbersome with no headphones. The Villa  was interesting to see just based on the sheer size of the whole complex and the variety of different buildings but it was not my favorite visit to an archaeological site.

 

We met up with Stefano in the parking lot after completing our tour of the Villa. He drove us on to the center of Tivoli to find parking near Villa d’Este. He pointed out a couple places near the Villa where we could have lunch. We chose a little cafe that served some great burgers. We rejoined Stefano after lunch and he walked us over to Villa d’Este. He gave us about 90 minutes to visit as he wanted us back around 2:45 to begin the drive back to the port. I had said in my reservation  with the company that I wanted to be back by 4:30pm as the info I had prior to the cruise from MSC said all aboard was at 5pm. Turns out all aboard was at 5:30pm. But with all the traffic earlier it seemed best to target for 4:30 and then have some buffer. 

 

The Villa d’Este was quite lovely. The building was nice on the exterior but the interior was basically empty with only some beautiful frescoes to look at on the walls and ceilings and some statuary in certain rooms. The gardens were the real highlight though, going down several levels from the main house and full of a huge assortment of fountains of all shapes and sizes. It was one of the most spectacular garden complexes we have ever seen. Again, with our time constraint we felt a bit rushed. Having another 30 minutes to stroll the gardens slowly would’ve been nice. We met Stefano back at the entrance to the Villa and were on our way as scheduled. There was no traffic on the return so we were back to the port around 4:15pm. Stefano offered to show us a great place for gelato in Civitavecchia since we had some time to spare but we were tired from all the walking and wanted to get back onboard.

 

Splitting photos from the villas up into a few posts. 

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On our way back onto the ship we found Nonnat waiting for us before the gangway from the terminal. He escorted us back up to Yacht Club. There were no lines of people getting back on the ship this time though so it didn’t provide any sort of advantage. Again he had indicated he had been waiting awhile as we were not on a ship’s excursion so he had no idea when we were returning. It might’ve been wise of him to have checked with us each day to see when we were departing from or returning to the ship in order to avoid wasting his time at the gangway for us. We gave him a heads up that for the next day in Cannes we would not be getting off the ship so he wouldn’t have to worry about escorting us. Once back in the cabin we found some invites to the Yacht Club cocktail party and the Black Card party and a complimentary dance class. We just relaxed in the cabin for a couple hours before dinner.

 

For dinner that night we had made reservations at the Roy Yamaguchi Asian restaurant for 7pm. Service was fine save for our nightly cocktail struggle. We ordered mudslides on the rocks and they came out as shots. After some back and forth with a couple of the servers they got it right. We were confused as to why this was such an issue since Mike had talked to the bartender directly our first night onboard about how to make the drink. It had been an issue at Butcher’s Cut two nights before and now again. Our server told us that bartender was no longer at that bar which helped explain why it was still a struggle with the drinks. The food was pretty good. We got a mix of appetizers including the Baby Back Ribs, Pork Buns and Crab/Shrimp/Pork dumplings. The ribs and pork buns were good but tasted pretty much the same. The dumplings were unmemorable. For the entrees, Mike had the lobster fried rice, which he liked, while I had the wok fried Asian noodles which was quite good. For dessert we both just had some sorbet. Overall, this was probably our least favorite of our specialty restaurant visits between the two ships, but it was still a solid meal. It was nice to have a change in flavors. After dinner we finished up the evening in the casino again but luck was still not on our side.

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Appreciate that you're still posting.  I'm enjoying reading every post.

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Still enjoying your critique of your cruises. The plating of your meals look amazing although the taste may not be up to par which is unfortunate. Can't wait to read your final comparison to Celebrity.

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"Can't wait to read your final comparison to Celebrity"

 

 I would have thought 2 different products

like chalk n cheese

& if you favour one you may find the other less favourable . Horses for courses 

 

 
 

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On Thursday, the 26th, the ship was in Cannes, France. We decided to stay on the ship that day as we had spent several days in Cannes back in 2013 and had racked up a lot of cost for tours in other ports, and with this itinerary having no full sea days, this was an opportunity to just take it easy. We had been having some really early rise days prior to this so it was nice to sleep in a little bit until 8am. We couldn’t sleep any later as we had spa appointments at 10am. Since we were both getting massages we decided to skip eating breakfast as we don’t like getting massaged on a full stomach. We chose to get sports massages. Typically we like to have deep tissue massages on our cruises but MSC does not offer that; this was the closest to it. We were asked to fill out a consultation form when making the reservation and to bring it with us filled out, so that saved time. We arrived to the spa about 5 minutes before our appointment and were each escorted in right on time. As with our Bellissima massages, everything was all very cut and dried. No chit chat and no looking at the consultation form, or at least no discussion with me about things like the areas I wanted focus on. I was happy that at least this masseuse allowed clients to keep their own underwear on instead of having to wear the very skimpy cover up garment they provide which barely covers any of your unmentionables. On Bellissima the masseuse did not give that option. My massage was pretty good. I had never had a sports massage before so I wasn’t expecting all the stretching she did, but it was good for my body. This was a 50 minute session, which as with our Bellissima massages, was just too short. We really like the 80-90 minute massages we get on Celebrity or at hotels, as you’re just reaching that real relaxation point when it’s over. At the end she did refer back to the consultation form and asked if I wanted product recommendations but I declined. I liked this approach versus the hard sell on products you often get on other cruise lines. She did offer to book another massage if I was interested but I also declined. I did have to ask for water as I did at the end of the Bellissima massage. Typically you are dehydrated after a massage so water should be automatically offered (it is everywhere else I’ve gotten a massage). That’s one of the things I don’t like with the MSC spas. When your massage is done you really feel rushed to get up and get out. Elsewhere when I’ve had massages, you’re given a little time to come out of it, have some water, have a little chit chat, then get dressed and go. Mike and I met outside after our massages were done and he was not happy. He said it was one of the worst massages he ever had. Mine was fine but overall we found our spa experience with MSC to be average at best.

 

After the massages we went back to our cabin to change into our swimsuits as we wanted to spend the afternoon up at the Yacht Club pool deck. Now I had only been up at the pool deck a few times, once in the early morning, on a day when it was raining and windy and once in the late afternoon. In all cases there were no cushions out on any of the lounge chairs. I had assumed that it was because it was too early in the morning, it was raining or too late in the day for all the times I went up there before. Arriving at the pool deck around 11:15am though I was surprised to see that again no loungers had any cushions on them; they were all still bound up and covered at the front of the pool deck. In fact for the pool furniture as a whole there was only a smattering of cushions out for use. I found this very odd, especially after having just been on Bellissima where cushions were out on all furniture every day. Mike and I looked around to find loungers that were in shade. This is one of the key problems with Seaview’s pool deck. There really is no shade. There are two covered areas on either side of the deck which are set up primarily with tables and chairs for use for people to eat food from the YC Grill. A few loungers had been placed under these coverings (four on each side). These were the only ones with continuous shade. Otherwise you’d have to get lucky with some shadows from the upper ship structure depending on the position of the sun. By midday though with the sun at the top of the sky all of those shadows vanished. Since it was a port day the pool deck was a ghost town so we were able to grab two of the loungers under the covered area. We set up our stuff and then I walked around to see if I could find a staff member to ask what was going on with the lounger cushions. I found one server cleaning tables but he didn’t know and said I’d need to ask the pool attendant who was nowhere to be found. The server went to ask someone to have the pool attendant appear. He showed up about 5 minutes later. When I saw him I went up to him and asked if we could have cushions for our loungers. He said “No. Broken.” I was confused by his response and repeated back to him, “The cushions are broken?” He nodded. I was still confused as I didn’t understand how cushions could be “broken”. I also couldn’t believe that every single cushion could be “broken”. I asked him that; “Every cushion is broken?” He nodded yes. Note that I was keeping my questions simple here and the dialogue didn’t go much further than this as he didn’t speak much English. I asked him if I could speak to a manager at that point as I was bewildered and knew he wouldn’t be able to give me the answers I was seeking. He walked away and it wasn’t clear if he understood and was going to get a manager or if he was just going back to his duties. I went back to sit down and did see him talking to a butler a short time later, and motioned in my direction but that butler never came over to discuss anything with me. I then noticed the cabanas nearby. I wondered if they also were missing cushions. When I looked in at one, nope, they had a cushion on each chair. I was getting irritated at that point.

 

Mike and I hung out at our chairs until noon when they started lunch at the grill. Mike went to get food but as I headed there I saw Kamil, the head butler, heading towards me. He said he heard that I had a question about the loungers. I asked him what happened to all the cushions. He repeated what the pool attendant said which was that they were “broken”. I asked him what that meant but he wouldn’t give me a straight answer. He said that they just were no longer presentable to guests and had been removed. I asked if that meant they were torn or stained, but he wouldn’t say. I had to assume then that they had been ripped. But I could not believe that every single cushion was damaged and I asked him that but he said yes they were. I felt like I was getting a bit of a runaround here. He said that a customer on a prior cruise supposedly complained about the quality of the cushions and that corporate had ordered them to remove all the cushions; they were supposedly waiting for new ones to come in. I then was about to motion to the cabanas but he knew where I was going and jumped in and said those are for the Royal Suite. I said no and walked him over to another cabana that was available for rent which had cushions in them. I asked how was it that these cushions managed to survive the elements without being “broken” and yet every other lounger cushion didn’t endure but he had no answer. I was also wondering in my head why they still allowed a few cushions on chairs around the deck. I had noticed them looking a bit stained, but so had the ones on Bellissima, including the loungers, but they still put them out on that ship. I had noticed in the Royal Suite cabana that they wrapped both cushions in towels. I asked him if we could just have two cushions and we would wrap them in towels like in the cabana so no one could see any potential damage but he said that was not possible. Seeing as this conversation was going nowhere I told him that I was very disappointed in this and that it felt like a bit of a bait and switch as you see promotional materials featuring Yacht Club with loungers with cushions. I told him if I wanted to sit on a hard lounger I’d just go to the main pool; Yacht Club is supposed to be an upgraded experience. I also had to be honest with him. He already was aware of our butler issue and after all the frustrations with ordering simple cocktails this was just the final frustration. I told him that we had another MSC cruise booked for May on Seaside and that after the experiences here and on Bellissima that we were strongly considering cancelling and would also register our displeasure in post-cruise surveys as well as detailing everything here in my Cruise Critic. He basically just paid me lip service at that point with empty apologies so I went back to lunch with Mike. While eating we wondered if they were intentionally keeping the cushions away in order to try and get people to book and pay for cabanas where you could have a cushion. Lunch was pretty good. They had some nice carved meats available like a roast chicken and a small but adequate salad bar, plus a variety of other hot items. Just enough to hit the spot. Quality was good for buffet food. Mike was also able to get pasta made to order.

 

After lunch we used the pool. It’s a bit smaller than Bellissima’s but has a large area around the pool with a shallow amount of water that is basically wasted. On other ships like NCL’s ships with The Haven or Celebrity Edge they have loungers that sit in this shallow water so you can sun yourself while also getting a little wet. We didn’t stay much longer after swimming as the loungers were too uncomfortable to sit on for too long.

 

 

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Very strange about the cushions. There were always plenty out when we were in YC on Seaview in April. I wonder if others have had the same experience as you recently. 

 

Edited by 2013cruiser2013

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WonderMan - having stayed in The Haven for all of my cruises with NCL, if what you described with the lounger cushions happened on that ship, there would have been a mutiny! I really can't believe the sad story that they told you.  It makes me want to go over to the tied up cushions and go check them out for myself.

 

I've followed all of your thread to this point and have withheld my thoughts on your overall cruise experience. While I know you are planning a summary of the highs and lows, I've concluded for myself that my partner and I won't be checking out MSC any time soon. I'm quite happy with NCL's Haven and there are other cruise lines that I would consider trying as well. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences.

Edited by vulcan1971

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Continuing with Thursday the 26th...

 

We returned to our cabin after our pool time and basically spent the rest of the afternoon there relaxing. The cabin was comfortably spacious and it was nice to enjoy some time out on the balcony just watching the sailboats in the waters off of Cannes. My only complaint about the balcony was the lack of a table and the single footstool for two chairs. At one point Mike and I heard a weird sound that we didn’t recognize. We didn’t realize it was the phone until the last minute and we missed the call. The caller didn’t leave a message but we found out what it was about a short time later when Mike went out to look at the dinner menu at Yacht Club. He ran into Kamil while he was out who asked if we got a phone call. Mike said we missed the call so Kamil advised that to make up for our inconvenience with the lounger cushions they were offering us complimentary use of a cabana for all of Friday. I thought that was nice of them. When I raised the cushion issue I certainly was not seeking to get use of a cabana for free. I would’ve been perfectly fine in wrapping a cushion in towels and laying on one of the standard loungers. But I appreciated the gesture. I just felt for all the other guests laying on those hard loungers; we shouldn’t have to

complain in order to get a comfortable lounge chair.

 

We liked the sound of the dinner menu at Yacht Club so decided to eat there that evening. Normally we like to eat around 7pm. We switched it up and decided to visit the casino from 7-8pm before dinner as they were doing double points for that hour. I figured I was getting close enough in points that with the double points hour I might be able to hit the 10,000 point mark by the end of the evening and earn a free cruise. The casino was having odd hours the next day, open until noon and then not opening again until 11pm since we were docked late in Mallorca. We knew we wouldn’t be able to visit that day and it was our last day of the cruise so we needed to wrap up our play this night. My prediction was right and I was able to hit the 10,000 points right before heading to dinner. I figured I would follow up with the casino host when we came back to the casino after dinner to play off the free play we earned from our points. 

 

On our way to dinner at the Yacht Club we decided to stop at the lounge to have a cocktail that we could take to dinner with us. We figured it was easier to deal with the bartender directly than going through the nightly rigamarole with the waitstaff. The lounge was empty when we got there. We grabbed a seat at the bar and the bartender was right in front of us but ignored us. One of the lounge servers, who was very friendly, came right over to us to take our order. This was a bizarre thing we ran into everywhere with MSC. They do not want you ordering drinks directly from the bartender. Whether at the pool grill or at the lounge where you are actually sitting right at the bar with the bartender facing you they want you to always place a drink order with a server. Mike and I first ran into this on Bellissima at the pool grill when we would go up to the bar to order a drink if we didn’t see a server around. The bartender always looked annoyed. Mike told me he started noticing that the bartender would take his order but then give the drink to the server when it was ready so they could walk two feet and hand it to him. The same thing basically happened here at the lounge. We gave our order to the server while sitting on stools with the bartender a few feet away. We ordered mudslides on the rocks. She had no idea what it was so we had her write it down. We then watched her tell the bartender, again like two feet from us. He knew what it was but went to grab the blender. We had to stop him and reiterate that we wanted it on the rocks. He made the drinks then with no

issue, but of course giving them to the server who passed them over to us. It was so much silliness and really exemplified the service problem that this company has. It’s clear that they are instructing their staff not to provide the service that will satisfy the guest but rather to merely follow a regimented set of processes according to whatever guidelines MSC has determined is proper service regardless if it makes the most sense or not. When anything deviates from those processes it  blows most of the staff’s minds. We kind of rolled our eyes and laughed and went on to dinner. We figured getting a drink should be easier the rest of the night though since the bartender had just made the drink for us.

 

Dinner was good as far as service and food. Unfortunately there were just a couple of very large loud tables (of drunk Americans) that evening who spoiled the mood a bit. For a starter I tried the Asiago cheese fritters which were basically just mozzarella sticks and not that great, while Mike had the beef consommé with ravioli which he liked. I followed that with the truffle risotto which was excellent and the filet of beef Rossini which was also quite good; I tried ordering medium rare again and that worked. Mike had the shrimp cocktail, which he said was okay (he’s picky about things with a sauce), followed by the lobster tail which he surprisingly liked (he normally never orders lobster outside New England anymore after having some really terrible lobsters on cruises years ago). For dessert we both had the cherries jubilee which was tasty and continued the successful run of desserts at the dining room.

 

After dinner we popped back to the casino and I collected my free cruise certificate from the casino host. It entitled me to a free inside cabin for two with Bella experience for up to 10

days valid for sailings up to one year. Mike earned a 30% off certificate. He played through his 70 Euro worth of point free play quickly and went off to bed. I had a little longer play on my 100 Euro in free play. I got down to my last spin playing a Godfather slot machine when I

got a bonus that paid around 600 Euro followed quickly by another bonus that paid around 400 Euro. I took my 1000 Euro and said good night. It was a nice way to close out the gambling which had been mainly losses night after night.

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3 hours ago, 2013cruiser2013 said:

Very strange about the cushions. There were always plenty out when we were in YC on Seaview in April. I wonder if others have had the same experience as you recently. 

 

 

Jazzbeau is on the ship right now. It would be interesting to know if the cushions suddenly made a reappearance for his cruise after my complaining about it.

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1 hour ago, vulcan1971 said:

WonderMan - having stayed in The Haven for all of my cruises with NCL, if what you described with the lounger cushions happened on that ship, there would have been a mutiny! I really can't believe the sad story that they told you.  It makes me want to go over to the tied up cushions and go check them out for myself.

 

I've followed all of your thread to this point and have withheld my thoughts on your overall cruise experience. While I know you are planning a summary of the highs and lows, I've concluded for myself that my partner and I won't be checking out MSC any time soon. I'm quite happy with NCL's Haven and there are other cruise lines that I would consider trying as well. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences.

 

Understandable. There are just some quirks with this cruise line that might be difficult for some to get past. Honestly though, we actually found a number of similarities with an NCL cruise we did in The Haven last year on Getaway which was disappointing. I’ll try to compare between both NCL and Celebrity at the end of this. 

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4 minutes ago, WonderMan3 said:

 

Jazzbeau is on the ship right now. It would be interesting to know if the cushions suddenly made a reappearance for his cruise after my complaining about it.

I've been making notes of your highs and lows as we are back on Seaview in YC this coming April. 

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2 minutes ago, WonderMan3 said:

 

Understandable. There are just some quirks with this cruise line that might be difficult for some to get past. Honestly though, we actually found a number of similarities with an NCL cruise we did in The Haven last year on Getaway which was disappointing. I’ll try to compare between both NCL and Celebrity at the end of this. 

 

WonderMan - I will certainly enjoy hearing your thoughts on comparisons to NCL Haven or Celebrity Suite Class. You have a great perspective on detailing your experiences and adjusting your sails when the winds change your course. It would be a great pleasure crossing paths on a future cruise and you're home is not too far. I've never been to Provincetown but I have read much about its history and evolution over time. Sounds absolutely beautiful.

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We where on the Seaview a few weeks before you and had the same issues as you with the cushions on the pooldeck. We always managed to find a couple though but most of the loungers did not have them. I asked the very same question as you did and they told me that they where expecting a delivery with new cushions by the end of our cruise.....btw, on our cruise on the Seaview last year this was not an issue. 

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