Even before I boarded MSC Seashore today, online cruise groups were making a lot of noise about itinerary changes due to Tropical Storm Fiona.
Instead of going to the Eastern Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and the Dominican Republic, we switched to a Western Caribbean itinerary, visiting Roatan, Honduras, Cozumel, and Mexico’s Costa Maya. Luckily we still go to Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island in the Bahamas, although I would have liked to see Puerto Rico as well.
Some people have expressed disappointment with the change in ports, which is understandable. However, it is something that happens, especially when you are sailing during the height of hurricane season. Some people don’t know that’s what you agree to as part of your cruise contract when you book your fare. I hope everyone still has a good time.
Getting to the ship
To take a step back from the big news of the day, a word about my travels. I was very lucky to have a smooth trip to Miami. Given the recent travel chaos, I decided to fly early, arriving late Thursday night with my luggage in tow. I found a reasonably priced hotel, The Hampton Inn, in the middle of the beach, which is a great location for exploring South Beach. The hotel was clean and modern, and the staff was very friendly.
I was looking forward to arriving at the terminal for my first MSC cruise. MSC Seashore is one of the cruise line’s newest ships, launched last year. Seaside class ships are designed to follow the sun with plenty of outdoor space, a real advantage when sailing in the Caribbean.
I arrived a little before my official check-in time at the cruise port terminal. The porters greeted me immediately, took my bags and directed me to check-in. The lines weren’t too bad and moved pretty quickly. I noticed that some passengers had trouble finding the required screening records as they were online. For me it is easier to print everything. MSC requires non-US citizens to take an antigen test no more than 3 days prior to boarding, as well as a health questionnaire, so I had that on hand. It took about 30 minutes to pass.
Once on board, there were very long queues for the shore excursion office, given the change in ports. As I couldn’t see the end of the queue, I stopped by one of the restaurants to reserve my specialty reservations for the week. I also went through internet helpdesk as I was having trouble setting up my internet. Overall everything worked out and I sat down to relax a bit. Organizing port excursions would have to wait.
At around 2 p.m. the cruise director announced that the cabins were open and there was a mad rush for the elevators. I decided to relax for a few more minutes, then headed up the stairs, thinking in part about my potential calorie burn on board this week.
This is my first time sailing solo and my first time staying in an inside room. Overall, my cabin is spacious enough for one person, has a nice king size bed, and the bedroom has natural colors and textures, which creates a calm atmosphere.
There is plenty of space for clothes and a nice office area where you can work. There are 2 US outlets, 2 USB ports and 2 European outlets. It would be nice to have one near the bed, especially when there is no natural light in the cabin. I brought a few spare European adapters I had so I could take advantage of all the outlets.
The bathroom is compact but has ample storage space, with a few shelves, to help keep things organized.
Lunch / Afternoon
After a quick stop in my room, I decided to head to the Marketplace buffet for a bite to eat. It’s a fairly large space, and despite being busy, there are plenty of spaces to sit. I had a selection of salads, as well as delicious Neapolitan pizza.
Newly energized after lunch, I decided to explore the ship. New to MSC, felt a bit lost walking around, but that makes for one of the best explorations.
Not atypical for South Florida at this time of year, we had a light shower so didn’t spend too much time wandering outside, but came across an amazing themed water park pirates with a fairly large Kraken on the loose. It made me want to be a kid again. I also walked over the infinity bridge which allows you to walk over the open ocean. It looked attractive, but it was covered in rainwater and I was worried I wouldn’t cross without slipping and sliding all over the place.
There seems to be an endless number of bars on board and fun music which added a festive atmosphere. The muster exercise was done in the cabin, where we watched a short video and then had to check in at our muster station. Announcements are in 3 languages depending on the diversity of passengers so things may take a little longer.
After a busy day with lots to do for boarding, a leisurely steak dinner at Butcher’s Cut seemed perfect. I purchased a 3 night specialty dining package for $110 pre-cruise, a bargain compared to the cost of $70 for a meal.
The ambiance of the restaurant is what you are looking for in a steakhouse, with dark leather chairs and a warm, inviting atmosphere.
To start, I was ordered an assortment of freshly baked bread with smoked butter/paprika. It probably could have been a meal in itself.
I decided to be a little adventurous and try something new, so for my appetizer I chose bone marrow. Served with a butter and parsley sauce, it was light and luxurious.
I continued with a classic filet mignon. I felt compelled to choose the sauce for my steak when the waiter told me it came with all four – chimichurri, mushroom, pepper and bernaise. Why not ? Followed by a simple lava cake, the whole meal was a delight. The waiter was attentive and knowledgeable and made for a perfect first evening on board.
Tomorrow port day
For the rest of the day, I unpack and relax. Based on our updated schedule, we are supposed to arrive in the Bahamas at 8:00 am and stay until 9:00 pm in the evening, which is plenty of time to explore MSC’s private islands.
I don’t have any structured plans but I’m looking forward to exploring the different parts of the island, as well as the nightlife.
The ship rocks gently tonight; hopefully we will have a sunny and warm day tomorrow.