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WonderMan3

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

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31 minutes ago, hcat said:

All great photos and enjoying the  travelogue so far.  This sunset is my favorite!

 

The on board breakfasts look and sound fairly pathetic..maybe you should try the Pool One that was suggested.

 

Hope you are feeling better.. Try Saline spray...all natural and works wonders!

 

Yes, feeling much better today thanks. Our daily napping helped speed things along quickly. I was already improving yesterday. Basically just dealing with the leftover gunk from the cold today.

 

Yeah, the breakfasts have not been anything to rave about. I’m hoping maybe things will be better next week on Seaview.

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Enjoying reading your LIVE review very much.  So far I’m not seeing anything that would compel me to book a MSC Yacht Club cruise rather than a Celebrity cruise.  It appears that food and service has been “so-so” on your sailing.   I do agree with you that Celebrity suite pricing is out of control!  

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Great ongoing review. I look forward to it every day. But wondering, are you having a good time? With service and food seeming to be just ok, I’m just wondering if you are regretting your decision to try MSC. 

BTW..so glad you found a lucky machine!!

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4 hours ago, Georgia_Peaches said:

Great ongoing review. I look forward to it every day. But wondering, are you having a good time? With service and food seeming to be just ok, I’m just wondering if you are regretting your decision to try MSC. 

BTW..so glad you found a lucky machine!!

 

I’ve been withholding an overall assessment of our experience until we at least complete this first cruise, but yes, we’ve been enjoying ourselves. There have been some definite issues with service and food and that may impact our decision to cruise with MSC in the future but we are still having a good time. It’s a vacation so you have to roll with it and not let the negatives get you down. I’ve commented on positive things too so we are learning to steer ourselves towards positive situations. I love being in Europe and visiting the ports so that helps balance out the negatives too.

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22 hours ago, WonderMan3 said:

 

There should be very few reasons to have to take a passport with you ashore. I know there are exceptions like casinos (Monte Carlo for example) where they require passports. None of the European ports I have visited needed you to have a passport to tour around. I’m not sure if places like Russia where visas come into play require you to have your passport on you. A driver’s license or national ID should be fine. They haven’t even been checking those at any of the ports on this cruise. They only ask for your cruise key card.

 

Perhaps the reason no one is checking passports at the ports is that all of your stops have been in the EU and there isn't any reason for passport control.  In Russia you need your passport and visa (included with many guided tours) to exit the port as well as re-enter.

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Sorry you felt you had to skip the boat trip to the calanques in Cassis.  One of my favorite trips ever.

 

I haven't sailed YC in Europe, only out of Miami.  Haven't experienced the language difficulties you seem to be experiencing.  I wonder if they took all their best English-speaking staff and put them on the ships sailing from Miami?

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I have been enjoying your review. Looking forward to the rest of your travel posts.

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Wonderful review with very nice photos. Congrats!...

 

Let me just to explain the passport situation: All the 27 states of the European Union plus the UK (at least for now...), and a few other European nations form what is known as the Schengen Agreement, that for the practical life of all of us means that once inside the "club" you can freely circulate amongst all the members as you please, making all the organized travels inside the "club" domestic travels, so, if you're from a foreign country, you'll only need to pass immigration when you're returning home. One time I crossed the Central Europe by bus, and one day I crossed between 3 different countries, and I only noticed I was on each other once the cell phone rang with each country welcome message! Basically you'll never need to have your passport with you. Your cruise card suffice in case of any urgent need from the authorities here. Few exceptions apply: If you want to use the Casinos; if you pre purchased online certain Vatican City tickets or private tours; or if it is advertised as being required elsewhere. If your health insurance plan covers travel expenses in Europe, bring its card, obviously. Russia is outside the Schengen Agreement and you'll need your passport with you as well as the visa, normally obtained with the purchase of a shore excursion from the ship or an authorized vendor. Hope to have helped.

 

As regarding the language issues: TBHH; in some nearly 15 years of cruising I have never have them on any company that be including MSC... But this time of the year, at least on MSC uses to be the worse in terms of service consistency once it is the time they use to rotate crews from the ones serving the summer European market to the ones serving the winter ones, sometimes on south America or elsewhere. Again... TBHH; being English the de facto "free language" of our world; if MSC (or anyone else dealing with global markets at that extent to say the least...) wants to effectively grow up at that level, permanent English language training schemes for their employees must to be a top priority!...

 

Finally as per the food: TBHH; that is subjective of course; and TBHH as per your photos I would with no doubt to eat it all... But again: Perhaps you had the "good luck" to have turnaround crew week!... But again: That burger bun situation you mentioned is not really up to par with what, even at the 4* European hotel market uses to offer for regular guests, let alone suites is the usual!... They must to correct it.

 

Have a nice day and nice sailings!... 🙂

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We started our Tuesday in Messina, Sicily early at 6am as we had to meet our tour guide at 8am. We didn’t have time to eat at the Yacht Club dining room and only had about 15 minutes to grab a quick nosh at the Yacht Club Grill. We exited the ship right at 8am. It took us a few minutes to find our guide. Heads up when docking in Messina. There are two areas where tour guides wait for passengers. If your guide is from a full tour company then they wait in a special security section just past the terminal. If your guide is from a taxi company (as ours was) , you have to go through the terminal and out to the taxi parking area. I had booked with a company called Sicily Taxi Service. Our driver was Massimiliano, who I believe is also the owner. Our itinerary for the day was to visit some of the Sicilian hill towns, two of which, Savoca and Forza d’Agro, are famous for being featured in scenes in The Godfather films, and the third, Castelmola, is notable for being at an elevation of 1736 feet. 

 

We drove to Savoca first. Along the way, our guide talked about things related to the local area including agriculture and historical events. We arrived to Savoca around 9am and found the village totally quiet. Mike and I basically had the place to ourselves for about 45 minutes before multiple bus tours arrived with big groups. There’s not much to see in the town besides the quaint scenery, a few shops and the two locations used in The Godfather; a church where a wedding scene took place and the Bar Vitelli. Plus there’s an interesting sculpture dedicated to director Francis Ford Coppola. We timed things perfectly arriving at the Bar Vitelli after our walk of the town right before the tour groups arrived. We sat and enjoyed some tasty granita (a Sicilian specialty similar to Italian Ice) and watched the line to get in wind all the way out to the street. If you go here on a private tour make sure your guide takes you here first thing in the morning in order to beat the crowds.

 

We drove on to Forza d’Agro next. There was even less to see at this town. The main attraction again was a church used in The Godfather filming. But the town’s position high on a hill gave it fantastic views of the Sicilian coast both north and south. We didn’t stay here long before moving on to see the Madonna Della Rocca, a small church carved into the rock of a mountain located above the town of Taormina. Then it was on to Castelmola where we had lunch at a very interesting restaurant/bar called Turrisi which is decorated with an array of phalluses over 4 floors. Despite the naughty atmosphere the food was great. We both had pizzas that were delicious and I had another Sicilian specialty, arancini. We then wandered the town for a bit. There are multiple shops here to pick up local souvenirs and ceramics. We were supposed to meet our guide at 2:30 but wound up being ready at 2. He offered to take us somewhere else as we had him booked until 5. (This tour normally includes a visit to Taormina but I had dropped that since we visited Taormina last year). At this point we were tired and hot and asked him to take us back to the ship. We weren’t really feeling the guide anyway as he seemed a bit unengaged and had a thick accent which made him hard to understand at times. He did take us on a short panoramic drive around Messina before dropping us at the ship at 3pm. We had an enjoyable day but he was probably the most disappointing guide we’ve had in our recent trips to Europe. I would not recommend his service.

 

Upon entering the pier area we saw an MSC staff member holding a Yacht Club sign near the terminal. When we showed her our cards she flagged to another staff member near the gangway who motioned to us. When we arrived to the gangway there was a fairly long line. This staff member asked the passengers approaching and on the gangway to step aside so he could bring us forward to the key card scan. Apparently this is a Yacht Club benefit. While we appreciated being able to skip the line it was a bit uncomfortable watching the staff member ask people to step aside and then us walking past them. We got a few nasty looks from people in line. At security my bag got pulled. I had bought a ceramic bottle with some local almond wine so I assume that’s what triggered the check. Security opened the box the bottle was in but he looked at it and put it back in my bag and let me have it back, so maybe he didn’t realize it was alcohol.

 

We headed back to the cabin and relaxed for a few hours, even taking our first opportunity to sit out on our balcony. Most other afternoons this cruise our balcony has been in the hot sun so this was a treat. At sailaway from Messina I got some good shots of the statue of the Madonna that guards the entrance to the harbor.

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Great shots...of course I love the kitties.  Hcat

Edited by hcat

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For Tuesday night’s dinner we decided to return to Butcher’s Cut as we were done with the Yacht Club dining room (on this ship anyway) and had enjoyed our meal there the other night. We reserved it for 8pm so that we could go from there to see the Cirque du Soleil show Varelia at 10pm. We hit the casino first from 7-8. I wasn’t having any luck though but Mike made a little money. 

 

At Butcher’s Cut we wound up having the same server we had on our prior visit. I can’t recall his name but he was pleasant. We wound up ordering the dining experience again based on what we felt like eating (it worked out cheaper). For the starter Mike tried the tomato soup while I went with the Caesar salad again. Both were good. For the entree we both got the filet mignon again but I decided to upgrade mine with a crab Oscar topping. The filets were even better this visit and the crab was a nice addition to mine. Mike got the mashed potatoes again but I tried the macaroni and cheese which was not very good. For dessert we both ordered some lemon sorbet which was a nice palate cleanser. (Didn’t post the menus this time as I included them in my earlier post about Butcher’s Cut.)

 

Our only real issue at this meal was drink service. Our first round Mike ordered a White Russian with Grey Goose while I ordered a mudslide on the rocks with Grey Goose. Mike’s came out fine but I was delivered a glass of what appeared to be a shot of Grey Goose and lime. I brought it to the attention of one of the staff and reiterated my drink order. A few minutes later my Mudslide came out correct. When ordering a second round we’re not sure what happened. Mike wound up getting some sort of drink full of whipped foam with vodka but no Kahlua. I got a similar whipped foam glass but with only chocolate syrup in it and no alcohol. We flagged a server down again and asked them to please send the correct drinks. All these incorrectly made drinks meanwhile started piling up on our table; we nicknamed them the Island of Misfit Cocktails. Ordering cocktails outside of things that they have printed in a drink menu has really been excruciatingly frustrating on this cruise!

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Edited by WonderMan3

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After dinner we wound up having some time before the Cirque show so Mike went back to the room as he had forgotten something and I wandered back into the casino. Luck was back on my side this visit as I hit a 1200 Euro jackpot on a Wonder Woman slot machine. 

 

We entered the line for Varelia around 10:15 and the line was still quite long to enter (doors close at 10:20). Once inside we decided to go to the bar to see what the drink situation was since we had missed out on our drinks at Syma the other night. There were a whole group of drinks sitting on the bar and you just come by and grab the one you want. We wound up choosing some pink colored concoction that included grapefruit juice and Rosé wine. Then we went to our seats. For both Cirque shows our seats were excellent; Center section and 2nd or 3rd row. There was a band without a vocalist playing before the show this time. Varelia is hard to describe. It involves some purple skinned princess who meets a blind young man and they fall in love. Then the princess gets kidnapped by some evil dude. Blind guy along with some bizarre goat man and panda woman go to save the princess. After they do the show gets really bizarre culminating in the whole cast dancing to “Disco Inferno”; I kid you not. There is more for kids to like in this one vs Syma. There are a few excellent acrobatic moments and great use of the giant video screen. Overall though we thought it was just okay like Syma.

 

After the show we headed back to the cabin and found they had delivered chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of sparkling wine, our black card gifts. We also got an invite to the Voyager’s Club Black Card Party.

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Here is the Daily Planner from yesterday in Malta plus an invitation to a Yacht Club gathering.

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Sounds like you are having a very nice time on board  with just a few hiccups along the way.   And some good luck in the casino.

The strawberry plate looks scrumptious...as did many of the dinner items!

 

My dh admired Mike's blue shirt..can you share the source?...would make a great b day surprise!

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I've followed / read most of your other "live" threads on the Celebrity board, and had considered an MSC Yacht Club cruise for our family's holiday sailing for next year, but your review is starting to make me feel relieved we decided to stick with Celebrity.  Outside of the yacht club, does the ship feel crowded and how has the service been around the ship? 

 

I am also really enjoying your port reviews!  Thanks for taking us along with you!

 

Linda

  

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On the X thread it said ship carrues 5, 000 pax,  is that correct?  Seems huge.

 

  Do you have any exterior pics?

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On 9/15/2019 at 10:26 AM, WonderMan3 said:

Sorry for the delay on updates. Between being busy in ports and feeling a bit under the weather I haven’t had a chance to post. So continuing our adventures from yesterday in Marseilles...

 

We met our private guide outside the cruise terminal. I had reserved a tour through a company called One Day In Provence which I found with good reviews on Trip Advisor. Our guide was named Patrick. He took out in a very comfortable van for a tour of Marseilles and Cassis. We started in Marseilles with a walking tour through the old town and then down along the harbor of the old port. The city is a very gritty with a hodgepodge of architectural styles and graffiti mixed in with some wonderful murals. It felt very much like Greenwich Village back in the 80’s where there were little boutiques, cafes and art galleries alongside buildings that looked derelict. The harbor area seemed to be experiencing a revival with more renovated buildings and was abuzz with locals and tourists. Patrick took us through the local fish market and brought us to his favorite coffee shop to try a cup. Afterward we took a drive up to the Notre Dame de la Garde church which stands magnificently on a hill overlooking the city. It was very crowded with visitors and my cold was starting to annoy me so we didn’t stay too long. 

 

We next drove on to the cute little fishing village called Cassis, about a 30 minute drive from Marseilles. We had a nice lunch at a cafe near the harbor where we enjoyed some truffle risotto and veal milanese. After we had planned to take a boat ride to see the Calanques, which are giant rocky cliffs surrounding beautiful inlets with beaches. I was feeling very tired at this point though we just strolled for a bit instead to check some local shops and a bakery that Patrick recommended. We then finished our day with a drive up to an overlook to view the Calanques from above. Patrick then drove us back to the ship. All in all we spent 7.5 hours on this tour. It cost us 540 Euro for the day with lunch being on our own. Patrick was a great guide and I would definitely recommend this company. Sharing some photos from our day.

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Patrick and William are both outstanding guides we have used on multiple occasions.

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7 hours ago, hcat said:

Sounds like you are having a very nice time on board  with just a few hiccups along the way.   And some good luck in the casino.

The strawberry plate looks scrumptious...as did many of the dinner items!

 

My dh admired Mike's blue shirt..can you share the source?...would make a great b day surprise!

 

He bought it at Macy’s. The brand is Tasso Elba Island.

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2 hours ago, hcat said:

On the X thread it said ship carrues 5, 000 pax,  is that correct?  Seems huge.

 

  Do you have any exterior pics?

 

Bellissima carries 4500 passengers according to its Wikipedia page. Haven’t been able to take any exterior shots as there haven’t been any good angles from within the ports to get the whole ship in.

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22 hours ago, WonderMan3 said:

For Tuesday night’s dinner we decided to return to Butcher’s Cut as we were done with the Yacht Club dining room (on this ship anyway) and had enjoyed our meal there the other night. We reserved it for 8pm so that we could go from there to see the Cirque du Soleil show Varelia at 10pm. We hit the casino first from 7-8. I wasn’t having any luck though but Mike made a little money. 

 

At Butcher’s Cut we wound up having the same server we had on our prior visit. I can’t recall his name but he was pleasant. We wound up ordering the dining experience again based on what we felt like eating (it worked out cheaper). For the starter Mike tried the tomato soup while I went with the Caesar salad again. Both were good. For the entree we both got the filet mignon again but I decided to upgrade mine with a crab Oscar topping. The filets were even better this visit and the crab was a nice addition to mine. Mike got the mashed potatoes again but I tried the macaroni and cheese which was not very good. For dessert we both ordered some lemon sorbet which was a nice palate cleanser. (Didn’t post the menus this time as I included them in my earlier post about Butcher’s Cut.)

 

Our only real issue at this meal was drink service. Our first round Mike ordered a White Russian with Grey Goose while I ordered a mudslide on the rocks with Grey Goose. Mike’s came out fine but I was delivered a glass of what appeared to be a shot of Grey Goose and lime. I brought it to the attention of one of the staff and reiterated my drink order. A few minutes later my Mudslide came out correct. When ordering a second round we’re not sure what happened. Mike wound up getting some sort of drink full of whipped foam with vodka but no Kahlua. I got a similar whipped foam glass but with only chocolate syrup in it and no alcohol. We flagged a server down again and asked them to please send the correct drinks. All these incorrectly made drinks meanwhile started piling up on our table; we nicknamed them the Island of Misfit Cocktails. Ordering cocktails outside of things that they have printed in a drink menu has really been excruciatingly frustrating on this cruise!

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So, they instead of your drink of choice, they served you what seems to be a variant from a virgin banana split they used to have on the kids cocktail page on the regular bar menu???... Hilarious!... What's going on that ship, lately???... Oh, my!... You made my day!... 🙂 Keep the nice review coming and have a nice day and sailing!... 🙂

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Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing.  I'll be in Marseille on the Divina in April and will check out the tour company you recommended.  Thanks, CTBob

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Sorry to be falling behind in updates. The time I set aside to do that today was the one time this whole week where the ship’s WiFi was being problematic. (Sea Day so likely overloaded by too many users in the middle of the day.)

 

On Wednesday morning we arrived in Malta. It was an early rise for us again at 6am as we were meeting our guide at 8:30am. We did our standard routine of popping up to the Yacht Club Grill for breakfast; we each had a freshly made omelette. The staff at the grill has generally been very pleasant all week save for the bartender who’s been a little gruff and unfriendly. The food has been okay for breakfast. The omelettes have been kind of low in flavor, the bacon tends towards being more fatty than crispy, the hash browns are a bit bland...All in all nothing to write home about, but it does the job of giving us a quick, basic meal in the morning before exiting the ship.

 

As we left our cabin to exit the ship we were wondering where to go to disembark (it changes daily). We passed Jhonny our butler and asked him. He said he could just escort us down himself. The butlers have the ability to direct an elevator to go express to a floor ( as do all Yacht Club key cards we discovered - more on that later), but another couple got on when we did so he couldn’t take it Express this time. We were off the ship and arrived to meet our guide Nick just past the terminal exit a little after 8:30. I had booked through a tour company called My Maltese Guide after a couple other companies I contacted were already booked up. We got lucky with Nick as he proved to be one of the best guides we ever had in Europe. He was an expert on pretty much anything and everything related to Malta and really made an interesting day for us. 

 

Our tour started with a visit to the Mosta Dome, one of the largest rotundas in the world located within a basilica in the town of Mosta. It was quite impressive. Then we drove on to the town of Rabat to visit St. Paul’s Grotto, which is an underground cave where St. Paul is said to have lived for a few months after getting shipwrecked on Malta. Rabat is adjacent to the ancient walled city of Mdina so we just walked there. We had visited Mdina on a prior visit to Malta and loved it so much we wanted to return to spend more time. Unfortunately, unlike our prior visit, it was extremely busy in Mdina that day with tour groups. The streets were crowded with people and it made it difficult to do all the photo taking I wanted to do. After having lunch at a local restaurant within a Mdina, we followed the winding streets back out and drove on to make a quick stop at a store selling local Maltese products. I wanted to pick up a jar of Kunserva which is a sweet tomato paste that  I had tried on our previous visit; it’s so good! We then drove to the coast to see the cliffs going down to the sea and then on to visit the San Anton Gardens, a public park adjacent to the residence of the president of Malta. At this point we still had time left before the tour ended so we did a panoramic drive around Valletta and stopped to tour Fort St. Elmo, which guards the entrance to Valletta’s harbor. All in all a great but tiring day. 

 

We got back to the ship to find a staff member near the gangway holding a Yacht Club sign. He wanted to take us to the front of the line but there were only about 7 people in line and we didn’t feel the need to cut in front of that few number so we declined. Once on the ship, Mike went to smoke and grab us some cocktails. I wanted to have some of the tomato paste I had just bought along with the pesto I got in Genoa but I needed bread. I went up to the Yacht Club Grill as I knew they had a bread/roll selection during the day. Apparently that’s only at lunch though as the bread was put away by that time (around 4:45). I asked one of the staff members if there was any way I could get a few pieces of bread, maybe if they had some in the kitchen behind her. She said no, that I would need to order from room service to get bread. She then pointed to pre-made sandwiches they had our right at the moment. I decided to just take four of the small sandwiches that were on focaccia and I’d just scrape the toppings off and use the bread for my snack. Kind of lame that I have to do that in what is supposed to be a luxury suite area...It did the job though and I enjoyed my afternoon treat. 

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23 hours ago, WonderMan3 said:

We entered the line for Varelia around 10:15 and the line was still quite long to enter (doors close at 10:20). 

The Carousel Lounge on MSC Meraviglia has a dedicated YC line with no or little waiting time. The “priority” access includes quicker check of tickets , pick a cocktail and being escorted to the seats. Our YC butler offered to escort us from the YC lounge to the Cirque Du Soleil theatre lounge for the second show. That was even quicker since he used one of the priority elevators.

Thanks for taking the time and writing this review. Unfortunately we had similar (negative) experience with food and service on our Baltic Sea cruise on Meraviglia earlier this month.

The photos in your review are stunning.

Edited by SirWolf

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