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VERY long Seaside Review: 1/18/20 sailing, YC, with YC Pool Cabana review and a stop at Ocean Cay :)


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Hi All!

We returned from our maiden voyage on the MSC Seaside a week ago tomorrow, and finally I have a chance to sit down and write a review. Thanks for everyone for posting their tips and tricks, and for answering questions I had before we left!

Apologies in advance, I write long meandering reviews, but hopefully they contain some nuggets of info you can use. In short, we LOVED the cruise, but there are always areas for improvement, and I have no trouble pointing those out either LOL.

MSC Seaside January 18-25, 2020, western itinerary, YC Room 16001

Background: we sailed on the Divina two years ago in the YC (in the non-Sophia Loren royal suite), and have also said Royal Carribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, and Princess.


Pre Cruise

We flew down from Boston the evening before the cruise and stayed at the Doubletree Grand Biscayne Bay using Hilton Points, so thankfully the hotel didn’t cost anything. The room itself was spectacular, balcony was right on the water and in the morning you could see the cruise ships so close that you probably could have swam over to them if you wanted to! The hallways and the public areas of the hotel were in need of renovation. The continental breakfast offered for hotel guests (you had to go to a restaurant in the mall next door) wasn’t worth it, it took 45 minutes to get our order which only consisted of a bagel and a bowl of fruit salad. The only thing that made it bearable was the fact that the Yacht Club was going to rescue us from all of this shortly! Another side note, we are a gay couple who has been married for 8 years, and the front desk clerk who checked us could not understand why 2 men had reserved a room with one king bed. It was super awkward. So, I probably won’t be returning to the Doubletree Biscayne Bay. Anyway, on to the cruise!

Check-in
 

A quick Uber ride and we were at the port. There was some confusion as I told the driver to look for the white YC tents at the far end of the termina, where they were when we sailed on the Divina. Unbeknownst to me, they moved the YC tent over to the opposite side of the terminal (the porters pointed us in the right direction), so we had to do some walking with our suitcases, which was not a problem. I think we arrived at the port around 11:15 or so. We breezed through security and ended up waiting in the YC terminal for at least a half hour (the drinks and snacks helped pass the time).  The wait could have been a lot shorter, but they only had one person checking people in in the lounge (despite there being four computers set up). When we were finally called up to check in, they had already begun calling boarding groups. There was an issue with one of our cards or wristbands, so the lone check-in employee had to go out to the general area to get it resolved, so she called over another employee to aske them to watch over the computers because they weren’t supposed to leave them unattended. He said OK, she left, and as soon as she was out of sight, he decided to leave, too. So we just stood there and kept watch over the equipment for her. But we eventually got our cards and wristbands (and had to get our photos re-taken at the final security checkpoint for reasons not explained to us) and finally boarded the ship (I think they were up to group 5 or 6 when we began boarding).

Another side note, I may be in the minority, but I LOVE taking the pre-boarding photos and buying them on board. The backdrop was out, but there was no photographer there! Bummer .

First impressions
 

First impressions of the ship were great. Sparkling clean, amazing design, loved looking at everything as we were being escorted to the forward elevators to get up to the YC, and the butler escorting us immediately showed us how to use your card or wristband to call for priority service.

Regarding priority service, the process worked MOST of the time. A couple of times the elevator would come, you’d tap your card inside the elevator, and NO buttons would light up. Mostly I tried to not use it to avoid upsetting a crowded elevator, but it was a nice perk to have.
 

The Yacht Club was impressive, just like it was on the Divina. I loved having the topsail lounge with two floors of windows and an open, airy feeling. I especially loved the outdoor seating area at the front of the ship! I liked the atmosphere of Le Muse on Divina, but enjoyed the convenience of not having to walk to the back of the ship to eat dinner, instead just wandering upstairs when we were hungry. I also enjoyed hearing the piano and violin music wafting up from the topsail lounge so we could continue to enjoy it during dinner.

The YC pool deck had plenty of cushioned loungers, nice music, hot water in the jetted tubs, and a nice pool. The only thing I preferred about the pool deck on the Divina was that the pool itself was away from the bar and food area. I felt weird swimming right next to people eating a meal at a table and just looking at me.

YC pool cabana
 

We had planned on renting a cabana on the pool deck for the entire week. We ended up only renting it for three days which we thought turned out to be just enough, and totally feel it was worth the money we paid for it. When reading reviews about the YC pool cabanas, most people make the (correct) argument that there are always plenty of deck chairs available in the YC, so why waste money on a cabana? We had a number of reasons why we thought they were worth it. You had peace of mind knowing exactly where you were going to be camped out for the day (when you reserve it at the concierge desk, you pick out which one you want), you had built in shade from the cabana structure, an extra level of privacy, and your towels all set out for you covering the loungers. Throughout the day you get served something during breakfast (we had bagels and fruit), then mid-morning snacks (chocolate covered strawberries, and some fun fruit skewers). For lunch, they would either bring over whatever you wanted from the grill, or you could order off the lunch menu from the restaurant downstairs.

Additionally, one day we wanted pizza (and I had no problem walking back to the buffet to get some myself) and even though they’re only supposed to deliver pizza to your room through room service, they didn’t have a problem delivering pizzas to our cabana. Score! Also, in the afternoon they’ll deliver snacks like hummus/pita, and finish off their service delivering you different kinds of ice cream bars. This is in addition to the normal drink service you get up on the pool deck. Also, a cooler will be waiting for you in your cabana, stocked with whatever drinks you wanted (the butler asked the night before, we opted prosecco, still and sparkling water, and diet coke).

The downside to the cabana is that when the pool deck is windy, inside the cabana isn’t any better. In fact, with the added shade, it’s probably worse. On the plus side, even though we reserved our cabana for the whole week as soon as we got on the ship, they told us it wouldn’t be a problem if we needed to cancel certain days. One day was automatically canceled because it rained, one day we canceled after being up there for an hour or so even after they had everything set up for us because it was so windy and unpleasant, and we pre-canceled the final day because we decided to enjoy Ocean Cay instead. Despite our butler telling us our cancellation on the windy day was taken care of, it still showed up on our bill toward the end of the cruise, but that was resolved in seconds when I spoke to the concierge.

The Room

We were in 16001, at the forward end of the port-side hallway. There were only 2 or 3 rooms available when we booked, and we picked this one because we knew there’d be zero foot traffic outside the door from other passengers. But being up against the wall of a back area of the topsail lounge and under a corner of the dining room, we of course had concerns, so I asked a question here if anyone had stayed in 16001 and if there were any issues. One person had stayed in the room, and reported no problems, so I happily booked it. Lesson learned: even when someone says there’s no problem, you really should book sleeping cabins all around you, not crew areas LOL. The biggest problem was the very first morning, there is a crew door directly across from the room, and whatever goes on behind the door (I think it was butlers bringing people room service breakfast) there was a door that would SLAM every few seconds, over and over again, as crew went through it. Thankfully, we found out butler in the hall, who heard the sound too, and got that problem solved. In addition to asking butlers to close the door, not let it slam, engineering also adjusted the hydraulic arm on the door so it closed softly. So thankfully that problem was solved. Our butler had not heard the sound before because it was his first cruise on the Seaside. He has been with MSC for 23 years but boarded the Seaside the same time we did. With that issue settled, we would still hear occasional late night banging from the topsail and/or the restaurant. It didn’t ruin our cruise, but it was noticeable at times if you’re a light sleeper.

But the room itself is great. Huge bathroom, HUGE shower, plenty of hot water, better than the royal suite bathroom on the Divina. Comfortable bed, nice couch, big balcony. The balcony next to us, 16003, even had a cushioned lounger on it in addition to the normal furniture! How do I know this? They must have been cleaning the balconies and forgot to close the divider, because I woke up one morning and suddenly had a double-wide balcony LOL. A quick mention to our room steward on the way to breakfast and that was fixed, though. I should’ve dragged the lounger over to my side of the divider before I had him close it back down, though!

We had plenty of closet space, and more drawers than we could use. There’s a USB outlet on one side of the bed, which is convenient, but ours only worked if you physically held the cord pressed into the outlet, so we just used the ones on the other side of the room, which worked perfectly. The TV had an adequate selection of channels. There were ports on the back if you wanted to plug in a Fire Stick, but the TV itself doesn’t pull out from the wall at all or swivel. You can also check our on-board account on the television… a warning that the security photo you took before boarding will be staring back at you on the TV when you look at your account!
 

I know there has been some discussion about the mini bars only being stocked once now, but whatever we took out of there was replenished every night. Maybe because we didn’t take much, just a can of soda or a beer here and there, but we ate multiple cans of peanuts every night and they magically reappeared all week long, thank goodness!

I think the only thing I wish the room had but didn’t was a nightlight or some kind of low-level light in the bathroom, so you could do your business in the middle of the night without being blinded by the bright lights in the bathroom.

When you press the do not disturb button by the door, it emits a tiny blue light that was just bright enough to let me not trip as I walked around in the dark.
 

Oh, one other tip, I wish I brought a piece of black tape or something to cover the red sensor light on the TV. When the rest of the room is pitch black, if you wake up in the middle of the night you have this red LED light staring back at you.


The rest of the ship


The seaside is a beautiful ship! While we always retreated to the YC, I always had fun exploring the rest of the ship. On either side of the atrium are huge walls of windows, with seating on each of the decks providing a great place to relax and watch the ocean go by. The South Beach pool on Deck 7 is a great place to relax and be close to the ocean (although be aware it’s one of the main smoking areas), and if you’re having to get from one floor of the ship to the next, it’s worth it taking the really long way, just so you can use the aft panoramic elevators. They’re just stunning! The Bridge of Sighs lives up to its amazing expectations, and there are infinity bridges on the lower decks that are also pretty impressive.

I didn’t gamble in the casino, but walked through it several times and was never overwhelmed by the smell of smoke. The bars and lounges collectively get a thumbs up from me. The buffets never looked over-crowded when we walked through them (even on sea days), so either we walked through at the wrong time, or the fact that there are two buffets greatly helps with overcrowding. We ate in the buffet once, and was impressed, not just with the pizza, but we pressed the button for tableside drink service and were waited on within seconds.

The pool areas on sea days were as you would expect them to be. I was glad we had the cabana back in the YC!

The Seaside has an incredible water park! It was so amazing that this 45-year-old couldn’t resist going on the water slides! Tip: if you’re going down the side-by-side slides, the one on the right is faster/steeper. I felt like a kid again.

The Jungle Pool with the retractable roof was a godsend the day it rained. Speaking of the Jungle Pool, one difference I noted: in the hot tubs next to the jungle pool, the lifeguard would blow his whistle and yell at you if you tried to enter the hot tub with a drink. In the YC, the waiters actually deliver your drink to you while you’re IN the hot tub!

The garage club looked like it would be my favorite place to be with how it was decorated. I wish it was open a little earlier in the day, though!

We went to half of the shows in the metropolitan theater, and enjoyed all of them. The Michael Jackson show still is great. Thankfully there was reserved YC seating. Many of the shows we saw ended up being standing room only!
 

Ocean Cay

I now get why people were so upset when the opening of OC was delayed and they didn’t get to stop there on their cruise. It was a highlight of the trip, and thankfully the weather was perfect.
 

If you’re in the YC they have VIP golf carts that will shuttle you to your private area of the island, but as long as you’re ambulatory, it’s only about a 10-12 minute walk to get there, and you have a chance to see so much along the way! Note, if you’re walking, you will have to show your cruise card once you get to the YC section to gain entrance to it. The YC restaurant Ocean House is so beautifully decorated it blew us away. And the food, while a limited selection, was excellent. I’d eat early though. At peak times there’s a wait to get seated.  Also, be prepared for hiccups, like the day we stopped there, they forgot to stock the YC area with diet coke, and while we were there, they ran out of diet Sprite. Our butler was also our beach waiter on OC, so we felt like we were treated like kings the entire day. We enjoyed the lighthouse show from the outdoor area of the topsail lounge. It was a great place to view it!

YC Service
 

As I said earlier, our butler Putra has been with MSC for 23 years, but this was his first cruise on the Seaside. If he hadn’t told us that, I would think he had been there forever. He and the rest of the staff just anticipate and meet your every need. At the pool, they want to carry your drink for you on a tray as you walk back to your lounger. In the topsail lounge, they’ll carry your stuff for you if you want to head outside. They know your names 10 minutes after you’ve boarded the ship, and of course your drink preferences.

On the objective side, I will say that when we sat out of our “normal” waiter’s area in the YC restaurant, service not was not as smooth, so if you have a good server, it’s best to stick with them every night, even if it means waiting for a table.

But back to the good stuff and an example of outstanding service: My husband likes to drink coffee from a decent-sized coffee mug in the morning, instead of the smaller mugs in the restaurant. It’s not a huge mug, but more “American” sized. So he brings his own with him on cruises. Walking to breakfast one morning he realizes and says out loud “oh I forgot my mug!” and turns to go back to the room to get it. Our butler was in the hallway and insists HE should go get this mug for us. So we continue walking over to the topsail and up the stairs to get seated for breakfast, and waiting for us at the top the stairs is our butler, not only with the coffee mug in hand, but the mug is already filled with coffee made the exact way my husband likes his coffee.

Other stuff:

- I thought the food on MSC was excellent once again. I had one meal in the YC restaurant that was only satisfactory: the Cannelloni with veal. The rest was great. For dessert every night, it got to be a joke because the option that looked tastiest to me was always the “healthy” option, and I was definitely not trying to be healthy on this trip! Having said that, the last night in the YC the “healthy” dessert is billed as a strawberry milkshake. It is, in fact, a small bowl of runny strawberry yogurt with a spoon. It still tasted good, but don’t expect a milkshake!

- We got the 8gb internet package. I logged on to social media and web sites several times day, and at the end of the cruise had not even used 4gb, and that’s only because toward the end when I realized how little data I had used, I started uploading photos, and even left the internet “on” all night.

- I purchased the 40 pc laundry package, still a great deal. I was so impressed with how they folded and presented our clean clothes to us that I took a photo of it LOL.
 

- The Cruise Critic meet & greet was well attended, had great drinks and appetizers, the huge cake, and the captain and many top officers attending. MSC really takes care of its cruise critic passengers and really seems to listen to us, at least in my two experiences.


- We had our cards scanned for muster drill, but still got a nasty letter in our cabin for skipping the drill. I told my butler we attended and we would not be attending again, he just told me to tear up the letter and forget about it. It only irked me because we made it a point to go to the muster drill early to get a seat, so we were there forever, and still were being accused of skipping it.


- As on the Divina, my least favorite part of the YC was disembarkation, not because we’re leaving the ship, but because the butler takes you to the front of the line by the gangway, and you cut in front of people who have been lining up for a while. I guess I’m grateful for not having to wait in line, but I feel awful doing it.


- We had a Russian family on our sailing in the YC and they had several kids who they let run wild in the YC, running all over the restaurant, jumping on the chairs in the topsail, wrestling in the hallways, roughhousing in the lounge on the dance floor bumping into the pianist and the violinist, being loud and obnoxious at Ocean Cay. The father even changed one kid's diaper on the beach and took the kid naked into the water to wash off his butt in the ocean. I didn’t go in the water again after seeing that. They should consider making the YC 18+. It really was the only negative spot on my vacation. The violinist either was from Russia or just speaks it fluently, and on the last night, she had finally had enough and scolded the kids and it stopped them dead in their tracks. Wish she had done that on night one.

- I apologize again for the length of the review, and I’m happy to try to answer questions. I saved all of the daily papers, but forgot to bring them to work to scan them. I will upload them next week!

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I forgot to add, we took a tour of the thermal area in the spa since we had access. It was beautiful on the tour. Stunning, really. Except whenever we tried to use it, it was an overflowing sea of humanity that smelled like sweat and suntan lotion. I really wish we figured out when the quiet times were, or maybe there should be a reservations process or limit to the number of people allowed in there. If it wasn't so crowded, it would be an exceptional experience. So check out the spa, and ask about the quiet times! 

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Thankyou for the great review!  We are cruising seaside YC in August with our children.  I can assure you they will not behave like the ones you encountered as we would have to leave them in a port if they did 🤣🤣  sounds like an amazing week though!

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Great review.  FYI, if you had asked your butler for a lounger (or two) on your balcony, they would have appeared within 5 minutes.  So, note for your next cruise.  I loved sitting out on my lounger on my balcony.

 

I agree, YC would be improved by not having children, but I don't think that's going to happen.  I don't mind children if they're well behaved, but there seem to be an awful lot these days whose parents haven't taken the time to civilize them.  That does not speak well of the parents as fellow cruisers either.

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Another vote for YC to be "adults only!"  There was a fist fight between two passengers on our Meraviglia cruise in November in YC.  What were they fighting about?  One guest complained that the other guest's middle school aged kids were being unruly around the pool.  The parent seemed to think that his kids should be able to do whatever they wanted--and thus a fight ensued right by by the pool.  I think many would agree that the YC pool is really no place for kids who want to jump and run and do cannonballs.

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I was on the same cruise and totally agree with your assessment. Putra was also our butler....exceptional. This is the first cruise ship I have been able to eat fish. The fish was perfectly prepared and appeared to be fresh, not frozen. The lamb and steaks were excellent.

 

Ocean Cay was pleasant. The best private island of the cruise lines that I have been on.

 

The only negative was the unruly children in the YC. Great idea to have YC 18+. 

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WOW! Great review and thanks very much for all the details - very well written! My partner and I will be on Seaside, in the YC on the February 29th sailing. We have also sailed on Divina in the YC and are looking forward to experiencing another take on the same theme.

I got a great laugh about the "2 guys and 1 king bed" line! Been there, done that! From the jist of your post, MSC still treats LGBTQ2+ couples with respect. I hope there were a few nice get-togethers listed in the daily schedule.

 

I usually write a review on CC after our cruises, so keep an eye out for mine towards the middle of March.

 

Thanks again and smooth sailings!

 

Carl and Brett

Edited by JetJock_YHZ
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4 hours ago, eastoftheboston said:

I forgot to add, we took a tour of the thermal area in the spa since we had access. It was beautiful on the tour. Stunning, really. Except whenever we tried to use it, it was an overflowing sea of humanity that smelled like sweat and suntan lotion. I really wish we figured out when the quiet times were, or maybe there should be a reservations process or limit to the number of people allowed in there. If it wasn't so crowded, it would be an exceptional experience. So check out the spa, and ask about the quiet times! 

Go on a sea day. Nobody there. Perfect

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Thank you for taking the time to share your review.  We sail on the Seaside February 15th and are getting more excited by the day!  Would you mind sharing the price they charge to rent a YC Cabana?   We have rented a YC Oceanfront Cabana for the private island day and am curious to see if anyone has rented both and/or if they prefer to have one over the other and why. 

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2 hours ago, mumachaz said:

Thank you for taking the time to share your review.  We sail on the Seaside February 15th and are getting more excited by the day!  Would you mind sharing the price they charge to rent a YC Cabana?   We have rented a YC Oceanfront Cabana for the private island day and am curious to see if anyone has rented both and/or if they prefer to have one over the other and why. 

The cabanas at the pool are 59 on a port day, 99 on a sea day. Both were worth it for us. The YC cabanas on ocean cay are nice, but they’re set back behind the rows of sun beds, at least the ones I saw were. They had a couple loungers and pool floats and comfortable chairs and the butlers took great care of the guests in them!

Edited by eastoftheboston
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2 hours ago, JetJock_YHZ said:

WOW! Great review and thanks very much for all the details - very well written! My partner and I will be on Seaside, in the YC on the February 29th sailing. We have also sailed on Divina in the YC and are looking forward to experiencing another take on the same theme.

I got a great laugh about the "2 guys and 1 king bed" line! Been there, done that! From the jist of your post, MSC still treats LGBTQ2+ couples with respect. I hope there were a few nice get-togethers listed in the daily schedule.

 

I usually write a review on CC after our cruises, so keep an eye out for mine towards the middle of March.

 

Thanks again and smooth sailings!

 

Carl and Brett

 No problems being lgbtq on the seaside, except the welcome letter in the cabin was addressed to mr male name and mrs male name lol. 
 

they have an Unhosted lgbtq gathering listed in the dailies every night at 10 in the wine bar just outside the YC next to the specialty restaurants. 
 

there was at least one other gay couple in the YC with us, probably more. MSC always makes us feel welcome. 

Edited by eastoftheboston
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6 hours ago, gmbhardy said:

OP - how would you compare the Seaside YC with the Divina YC


I loved both of them. Our butler on the seaside was WAY better than the divina. Putra is sensational. I felt like the divina YC has a quieter atmosphere, maybe just because the topsail isn’t as open and the restaurant and lounge noises are combined on seaside. The front open area in top sail was a big plus for me on the seaside, 

 

if I HAD to choose one, I’d pick seaside, but I loved the Divina too. It’s like choosing your favorite child! 

Edited by eastoftheboston
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3 hours ago, babs21 said:

I was on the same cruise and totally agree with your assessment. Putra was also our butler....exceptional. This is the first cruise ship I have been able to eat fish. The fish was perfectly prepared and appeared to be fresh, not frozen. The lamb and steaks were excellent.

 

Ocean Cay was pleasant. The best private island of the cruise lines that I have been on.

 

The only negative was the unruly children in the YC. Great idea to have YC 18+. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thank you for backing up what I said about the kids. That one family was awful! 
 

my husband LOVED the lamb and fish too! We are in agreement in a lot of areas!

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4 hours ago, Amercury said:

Great review, thank you!  We board 2/8 for our first MSC & YC experience.  Previous RCI cruiser but excited for a change 😊 


I sailed on the Allure in a Junior Suite and really enjoyed it, but once you have the yacht club exclusivity it’s hard to go back. 
 

enjoy your cruise! 

Edited by eastoftheboston
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I sailed the Seaside on the 18th in the yacht club as well. I also know the Russian family you spoke of.  However, I completely disagree with all the posts about limiting the YC to adults.

 

We are a family of 5 with 3 children, 13, 11, and 10 years of age.  We received several compliments from other YC guests about how well behaved our children were throughout the cruise.  It is not right to judge a whole class of people based on some bad actions of a few.  Furthermore, there were some other families with children In the YC who were quite well behaved.
 

You can make equal arguments about excluding certain adults who don’t quite know how to conduct themselves.  Can’t make generalizations is the message here.

 

I agree with your review in overall how wonderful the Seaside YC experience was.

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1 hour ago, eastoftheboston said:

 No problems being lgbtq on the seaside, except the welcome letter in the cabin was addressed to mr male name and mrs male name lol. 
 

 

The first time I cruised, I shared a cabin with my sister.  In those days, cabins got personalized stationery.  Ours was Mr. female name and Mrs. female name also!  Apparently they can't wrap their heads around anything but male and female couples.  😁

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7 hours ago, SummerSunshine2003 said:

I sailed the Seaside on the 18th in the yacht club as well. I also know the Russian family you spoke of.  However, I completely disagree with all the posts about limiting the YC to adults.

 

We are a family of 5 with 3 children, 13, 11, and 10 years of age.  We received several compliments from other YC guests about how well behaved our children were throughout the cruise.  It is not right to judge a whole class of people based on some bad actions of a few.  Furthermore, there were some other families with children In the YC who were quite well behaved.
 

You can make equal arguments about excluding certain adults who don’t quite know how to conduct themselves.  Can’t make generalizations is the message here.

 

I agree with your review in overall how wonderful the Seaside YC experience was.


you are absolutely right that there were well-behaved children in the YC that week. Those kids weren’t top of mind when writing my review. It just seemed like we couldn’t get away from that one family. Hundreds of loungers at OC and they plop down right next to us LOL. 

 

Anyway, I should have acknowledged there were well behaved families in my review. I apologize for lumping you in with that one group! 

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14 hours ago, eastoftheboston said:


I sailed on the Allure in a Junior Suite and really enjoyed it, but once you have the yacht club exclusivity it’s hard to go back. 
 

enjoy your cruise! 

We sailed on the Allure, in a Grand Suite, and would still choose the YC experience over any other option.

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We also like the YC and we are sailing on MSC only in den YC also with our two Kids (9 and 11) since they are 6 an 8 years old. They are well behaved and when we say Stop, then its Stop, when we are traveling more than at home. 
 

The last time when I ve sailed alone in den YC my adult  cabin neighbor was disturbing more than a couple of kids. He was smoking on the balcony, crying about all things on board an more. After some interventions from the YC Manager he stopped smoking but has other stupids ideas, that was really, really boring.

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