Tales of the High Seas: Voyage of the MSC Seashore
November 13, 2022
I made sure I was all packed up and ready to go. I checked out of my perfect, little hotel, Fashion Boutique Hotel in South Beach. I now had a functioning new phone, and I ordered a Lyft vehicle to pick me up. The Lyft whisked me off to Terminal C of the Miami Cruise Terminal at 9:30 in the morning. Since it was a Sunday, I was hoping that traffic wouldn’t be too bad. My ride took 26 minutes for an 8-mile trip. We really didn’t experience traffic until we got to the Miami Cruise Terminal where there was a log jam of vehicles due to passengers trying to depart and others like me trying to arrive. I can only imagine what it might be like later in the day.
I arrived at Terminal C early. My appointed slot for check in wasn’t until 11:00 am. I’m a big rule follower so I just hung outside near where I would enter the terminal just people watching. I saw how fast the line getting into security was and hopped into line about 5 minutes early. I timed it just right and at the door was greeted by a staff member who checked my embarkation form and passport and ushered me into the room. Security had a bit of a line, but it moved quickly. I really had no complaints there.
Now let’s start with the complaints. MSC is horrible when it comes to organization of large groups of people. Once I was through Security, a mass of people passes into a l-o-n-g snake of folks and participated in that whole waiting game of a snake line hoping to see one of a myriad of check-in agents at numerous windows. Once at the head of the snake, a person was there to direct you to which window/person to get checked in. My expediter was friendly and helpful. Basically each “teller window” would then get a line of about 3 parties. Whoever was behind me lucked out because it was only me to be checked in. I was directly behind a party of four with two young children under the age of 5. Took longer for them.
At this point, I witnessed an unfortunate event. The line directly to my left had a couple of women waiting to be seen. As soon as they got to the front of the line, the staff member told them to wait right there, and he had to take care of something. He was gone for an awfully long time and never came back. One of the staff members explained he went to the restroom. I highly doubt that because he took much longer than I ever require in the restroom, unless he was deathly ill. No one came to replace him. The party just had to wait and wait and wait. Eventually once the party of four before me was all checked in, the person helping them moved over and helped that couple. I was now in a line with no one to check me in. I explained things to the expediter who guided me. She shifted me over to the line that she perceived would be the quickest. Eventually I got to see someone, and I had to produce my vaccination records, my embarkation form, my health questionnaire, and my passport. They took a picture of me even though I had already submitted a picture of myself online ahead of time and within a few minutes I had my sail card, given a boarding slip with a number (12) and was directed to move on. Moving on, I joined a caravan of people with no one directing us where to go. No one was there to tell you what you needed to do. I walked into a cavernous room with banners announcing boarding groups. I found group 12 and waited with them. There were a number of seats (not nearly enough). For most of the time I just stood with my bags and waited for my number to be called. In this large, cavernous hall, a huge amount of people rose and made their way to the front. It was a big cattle call. It just seemed out of control. In reality, there was a staff member at the head of the crowd metering people to enter the ship. At this point, occasionally, the passengers would shout what number boarding group was allowed to proceed further. After having waited, I’m going to guess, was an hour and a half later, they called my number. Once they called 10, because of this mass of people already standing up and towards the front, I made my way towards the front of the line. 12 was called and once again I followed a bunch of people and gave my boarding card to a staff member. At this point I made my way to the gangway and within 15 minutes I was on board the ship. This was a zoo of animals situation. It really did not need to be like this. Any time MSC had to deal with large groups of people, they really did fail. I ended up being fine, because I made sure I was alert and ready. I would have been concerned if I was traveling with young children because I would be worried that my attention would get diverted at a critical moment, never mind the patience of my children that would be required.
I eventually gained access to the wonderful ship, MSC Seashore. Eventually an announcement was made that you could now visit your stateroom. I did just that. I had a standard inside stateroom that was designed for two. For me, this was a step up. It included more space. The space felt very luxurious to me. That’s probably because the stateroom is larger than my bedroom back at home, so I am thrilled. I guess the combined bed is equivalent to a queen. I tried to use a different card to activate the power and lights in the room. The lights went out. You MUST use an MSC card. There are oodles of storage space, but then again, this room was designed for at least two people.
While in the room I watched the safety video on my stateroom tv. Afterwards, I decided to go to my muster drill station. Once there, my muster drill station crew member who checked me in told me about the video (which I had already witnessed) and that afterwards I had to call a number on my phone to acknowledge that I had viewed it. I returned to my room and called the number and that was that. Shortly afterwards, an announcement is made about the safety procedures and described watching the video, calling the phone, and then going to my station. I had already done all that. My mission was complete.
The ship design reminds me of Las Vegas of today with lots of shiny, reflective things. For example, a staple on several MSC ships is the use of staircases in their atrium that are encrusted with lots of tiny Swarovski crystals. They were able to incorporate a lot of cool uses of art. Much of the ship has a unifying design theme. For this ship, it was the city of New York City.
I did not see a laundry bag in my room. I need one. I had paid for a laundry package for them to clean 20 pieces of clothing. The room steward was nowhere around and did not introduce themselves on this first day.
I had heard that once you get onboard an MSC ship, the staff hound you about drink packages and dining packages. I had already purchased both before the cruise. It is amazing what work a smile can do. I just informed everyone who approached me that I already had a drink package, I already had a dining package. The smile, the “no, thank you”, and the “already purchased” worked like a charm. I was only approached in the first five minutes of being on the ship and I wasn’t approached again.
No matter which ship, strong drinks were poured despite my having a drink package. That’s exactly how I like them. Thank you very much. I was prepared to order oodles of drinks in case they were not strong enough, but they were.
I had checked into my room and organized it the way that I prefer. I had pre-purchased a dining package that allowed me to visit three specialty dining establishments for dinner. However, I wanted to be assured that there would be no issues with being seated at the times that I desired. I went to the first restaurant where I wanted to have dinner. I visited the host podium at Butcher’s Cut, the steakhouse, where I wanted to have dinner that evening. While there I made reservations for all three of my specialty restaurant choices. I was the only one at the restaurant. It was taken care of lickety-split and I was done making the reservations by 4:00 pm.
Today I was free as a bird as I was no longer pre-programming myself with group events. I decided to view the Miami Sailaway Party on the “Long Island Pool Deck” on deck 18 aft. It took place at 5:15 pm ish. I was pleasantly pleased that it was a lively affair with lots of dancing and music. Was it as much of a party as a Carnival cruise Sailaway? No, I would say not. But people were obviously having a good time. I was having a good time and that is all that matters. While there, I noticed that Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean was docked nearby and started to sail away from MSC Seashore. I received a message from a passenger aboard Oasis of the Seas, my buddy Joan! We were about to go to the Bahamas. Was she on her way to Perfect Day at Coco Cay? Maybe, or maybe the ship will visit right before they return to Miami. I was furiously waving to her from my vantage point on the pool deck. Lots of folks were returning my wave aboard the Oasis of the Seas.
It was a multicultural cruise with passengers and crew from all over the world. Because of that fact, announcements were made over the public address system in about six different languages. I could hear the announcements in German, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and English. As I wandered about, I would hear these languages being used by my fellow passengers. I noticed that I was assuming that my fellow passengers spoke English. In many cases, they did not. I, personally, enjoyed the multicultural aspect of this cruise. You may not. Just be mindful. Not every single announcement was made in six languages, just the most vital. Through the cruise, most announcements were made in about two languages, English and one other.
After exploring the ship to get myself acclimated I found that it was time to change for dinner. I was a bit icky from the chores of the day and the anxiety I had about being able to board so it was time for a shower, grooming, and get dressed.
Tonight’s dinner was at the specialty restaurant, Butcher’s Cut. I scheduled my dinner for 6:30 pm. At first, I might have been the only diner in the restaurant. Once I was seated and had placed my order, my server arrived with bread service that came with a smokey butter and a jalapeño butter. Definitely the smokey butter was quite smokey, but oddly enough I didn’t detect much spice with the jalapeño butter. And I have a bland palate. While at the restaurant, my seat availed me the opportunity to check out the deck 8 promenade. It was very similar to the one on Norwegian Prima. No wonder because both ships were built by the same shipyard, Fincantieri, and based on the same principal model, Project Mille. As I have said, this ship was very multicultural and at this dinner I had a crew member that had trouble understanding me. It was not a big deal. I slowed my speech and used simple language and we were able to get the job done.
Now it is 7:15 pm and I see no one else at this restaurant. Works for me! It is a steakhouse, so I ordered a steak. Along with the steak they brought out a tray with four sauces. There was a béarnaise sauce, a chimichurri sauce, a mustard sauce and one other that I can’t recall. A knife with the markings 947 was brought out. I made the stupid error to use the wrong edge for a bit of time, but that was no biggie. My starter was a goat cheese concoction and as you may know I love my cheese. What a wonderful way to start my dinner. The steak was a NY Sirloin 14 oz. cooked medium rare. It was absolutely perfect. I had a tasty side of mac and cheese since I am a kid at heart. My dessert was a lava cake. So glad I made that choice. I love that dessert. Service was excellent. I could not have asked for a better meal experience. I was offered coffee after dessert. Why is that a thing? Won’t caffeine interfere with sleeping? It is now 7:30 and three tables are filled. My perfect dinner is done and is heralded by a crying baby.
NEXT: Seizure disturbance on an excursion at Ocean Cay