Tales of the High Seas: Voyage of the MSC Seashore
In going through my pictures, I discovered something that I missed. I want to avoid the buffet when it is expected to be very busy. Most cruise ships usually have at least one other restaurant available to eat at on embarkation day. You usually can ask the staff what is open for your first meal on the ship. MSC Seashore only had the Marketplace buffet open. I and all the other maniacs aboard visited Marketplace buffet for lunch. It was a bit of a madhouse. And that’s with me arriving on the ship on the early side of things.
My issue was not with the variety of food available, the types of food available, or even the layout. My issue was just trying to navigate among all those people. One surprising thing for me were these tents on the tables of the buffet that provided instructions on how to have alcoholic beverages delivered to your buffet table using the Wi-fi and a QR code. I’m more of an iced tea kind of guy for lunch and that’s what I got for myself. I didn’t have a record of what I ate. It was tasty and fine. Nothing to write home about but then nothing to complain about either. The pastries that are in the Marketplace are incredible. The pastry chef was amazing the entire week. It’s a good thing I was taking the stairs all the time instead of the elevator.
NCL had no information about weather on the tv. The rumor mill caused me great anxiety. I tried to access that information through BBC and MSNBC but it was quite difficult. On MSC gaining weather information on the tv was a breeze. The home screen of the tv had the weather forecast available.
BIG LESSON: It is important to be your own advocate. On the previous evening I had received my paper “Daily Planner”, the schedule of events and activities available for the following day. I had not received my ticket for my shore excursion that I had purchased for my day at Ocean Cay. Ocean Cay was on the itinerary for the following day. I took it upon myself to visit the shore excursion desk that evening to address the matter. I had them print out my ticket for my shore excursion the following day. Lesson for travelers, be proactive to avoid a possible glitch. Once I returned to my room after the main show, Gravity, at 11:15 pm, I discovered that my room steward had since visited my room once again and delivered my shore excursion ticket. While my shore excursion desk visit proved to be unnecessary, it was better to be safe, than sorry
On this night, MSC presented Flower Glory Night. You could take a fancy trip back to the 60’s and 70’s and join them by wearing your finest floral garments. I had discovered that this would be a theme night prior to my voyage so I had packed a floral print shirt by Penguin for the evening.
At 9:00 pm I had made a reservation to experience the main entertainment show, Gravity. It was set on another planet where the ability to have amazing balance and acrobatic skills is all part of the deal. The theatre performers were truly amazing, and they defied the laws of gravity in this spectacle of a show.
I was beat after dinner and the show and decided to only make a brief appearance at the Flower Glory party at Le Cabaret Rouge, Deck 7 Aft in honor of Flower Glory Night.
November 14, 2022
I woke up feeling quite calm because I had taken a sleep aid since my mind was racing a bit from the night before. My body was tired, but my mind was not. On this morning I was rather serene. I decided to discover what breakfast is like in the main dining room. On board the Seashore they had breakfast available at the Central Park main dining room restaurant. I am a morning person as I have described in earlier posts and planned for a 7:30 am arrival at the Central Park main dining room. Thank goodness they serve tea a bit differently than on Norwegian Prima. Now I don’t have to pour and spill. They pour the hot water. I put in a tea bag of my choice. Today it is English Breakfast. It took a bit longer to steep, but as I said, less messy. My vanilla muffin was very welcome this morning. I have had success a number of times with Eggs Benedict, so I ordered those. This time it included a slice of bacon that was not so great. They offered to sprinkle the dish with some grated parmesan cheese. I never turn down an opportunity for cheese, so I agreed to that.
Today was our day at the MSC private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. This island is only a few years old after having been reclaimed by the MSC company. It is distinguished by its turquoise waters and the distinctive red and white lighthouse. I was looking forward to immersing myself in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean and admire all that the island had to offer.
As per my usual, I was one of the first people off the ship to explore the island. I had done my research beforehand. I learned that despite there being a number of different beaches and areas to enjoy, one spot would be more for me. Because I was a frugal traveler, Lighthouse Beach was the only beach on the island that provided beach umbrellas complimentary. All of the other spots on the island required a beach umbrella rental. While Ocean Cay does have the opportunity to enjoy private beach cabanas, rafts, and floating beach mats and other water sport rentals, I was not about spending any further money. The other advantage to Lighthouse Beach was that you had a view of the Lighthouse and opposite that a great view of the ship, MSC Seashore. The MSC for Me app is available on the island. I could keep track of all my bookings, reservations and activities on the ship and on Ocean Cay. I just had to simply connect to the island’s wi-fi and could keep track of all my daily plans. To be honest, I really didn’t need to use it much. MSC provided me with beach towels in my room. Lucky me, I had a room for two, so I got two towels to bring with me onto Ocean Cay.
I was able to find my perfect, little spot and plopped down onto a large, colorful beanbag chair shaded with a beach umbrella. I found the perfect spot to conduct a favorite pastime of mine, people watching. Who knew I would get to see a full-grown man with a tramp stamp tatoo? What is better than getting a good chuckle from a woman falling on her rear into the sand as she tries pulling a chair? Or a daddy with his 3-year-old daughter splashing in the ocean? While at Ocean Cay I could spot two islands nearby. Were these other ocean cruise line private islands? My guide on my shore excursion informed me that one of them was Bimini.
Just as the ship proved to be an endless source of selfie opportunities, the private island was the same. MSC knows their passengers have entered the digital age.
Soon after I had had my fill of luxuriating in the beautiful, sun shiny day, I went to cool myself off with a good swim in the ocean. The high temperature today was 80°F/27°C.
I had done my people watching, listened to some music being piped in by the island, enjoyed the coolness of the ocean. It was now time to see what I could see snorkeling. That ocean was incredibly clear! It was the clearest water of my entire three-week trip. So pristine! My snorkeling adventure proved to be amazing. There were so many fish to discover of all different types. I was utterly amazed. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it probably was that clear because it was a little after 8 am. I snorkeled my way over to the rocky shores where the lighthouse was located. It was there that I discovered the greatest variety of fish. Probably because there were hardly any people in that part of the ocean.
At 12:45 pm I had booked through MSC an excursion to do the Lighthouse Tower Climb. It was only $8. So not much money would be lost if it proved to be too lame. My guide was there to provide insight into the origins of the island as we took 165 steps to 150 feet above sea level. She answered all of our stupid questions. There were about 10 of us on my trip. We learned about life as a crew member. Most of her expenses are paid for by MSC, including flights to and from home, her clothes, her food, and her housing.
We had almost reached the top when we were startled by a BANG! A tour member had fallen and hit his head on the lighthouse as he had a seizure episode. Luckily, our guide was a trained lifeguard. Soon after she was assured that he was not in any imminent danger, she called for help and lifeguards were on the scene in minutes. FOUR doctors arrived via golf carts soon after. MSC’s responsiveness was excellent. The patient seemed to recover well after being the recipient of care, attention, and water with 8+ people caring for him. Once assured that he would be ok, our tour group continued up the spiral steps of our trek. That lighthouse has a wonderful view of the whole island from atop.
I was disappointed. I had not captured using my GoPro my snorkeling adventures earlier that morning. When the people around me on the beach could tell I might be leaving, they were like polite vultures trying to take my bean bag chair, my umbrella, my spot. I found it all rather amusing. I quickly ran back to the ship, picked up my GoPro from my room, returned to the island, plunked my gear down on the beach and captured what I could. It is now mid-afternoon. There were less fish, more murky waters, and it was just not as magical an experience. I returned to the ship around 2:30 pm.
As part of the Fantastica experience, I had an assigned dinner restaurant, table, and time. There were four main dining restaurants. I was assigned to one of them. If I wanted to eat dinner at a main dining room restaurant, I was to report to the Tribeca main dining room at table 628. I lucked out. I really enjoyed my table mates. The conversation flowed with all four of us at a table designed for eight. Utah, Florida, and Pennsylvania represent! Our staff was so attentive and sweet. I could not have hoped for more. They even knew who I was since I was absent the first evening. I spent my first evening at Butcher’s Cut.
During dinner, there was a miscommunication problem at my table. People were answering different questions than were asked. I stepped in to translate and when they all so how far off base we were, we all laughed. Later in the night, I realized I wasn’t asked about my food allergies. I’m used to navigating those waters and my allergies aren’t terribly sensitive, so I was fine. Once again, be your own advocate. When placing your order always be sure your server is aware of any food allergies you might have. Dinner started with watermelon with goat cheese. My main was bucatini carbonara. Americans are used to larger portions, but this is cruising Italian style, modest portions are the rule. The staff continually encouraged me to order more food. But I refrained. I didn’t want a repeat of my night aboard Norwegian Prima’s Onda by Scarpetta restaurant. Dessert was grandma’s chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. My table mate Maria, being a previous MSC employee, received a custard which was not on the menu. She shared it with me and when combined with ice cream was delicious.
I took my bottle of water that I was served at dinner back to my room. While going back to my room, I ran into dinner-mate, Maria. After a bit of a struggle with service at a bar, we scored some cocktails and made our way towards the theater for the main show of the evening, “Beautiful”. It was a celebration of some of the greatest female vocalists of all time. From Broadway to Divas, the cast took to the stage and dazzled with songs, choreography, and costumes. The quality of the singers was quite good surprisingly. Although ¾s of the singers had voices appropriate for pop music. ¼ had an operatic voice which was absolutely stunning but did not fit. Think of an operatic tenor singing Sara Bareilles or Lady Gaga and you get the picture. But he only appeared occasionally. Usually, there were two female lead vocalists. Even though they used more current music, the production value was a bit of a throwback rooted in stereotypes making it easy to identify cultures and gender roles to the point where you could argue do we really need people to be pigeon holed? Haven’t we moved beyond this? The dancing, especially by the male dance troupe was fantastic. Sure, it helps that they started by showing lots of skin, but through most of the show they were completely covered up. It basically was a pastiche of musical numbers designed to celebrate women. Maria had similar takeaways and found it “out of date”. It was an earnest attempt. Through the MSC and me app there is a chat function. Sadly, we could not get it to work with Maria’s phone. So we were not able to stay in touch.
I then left Maria to venture off to the Cabaret Rouge. The Love and Marriage show was being performed. It was modeled after the old “Newlywed Game” from tv. That format is always a winner. Random thought: Why do couples who have been together for a long time often look like each other? I took it easy on my swamped bar staff and ordered a Ketel One sea breeze, no muddling, no use of a blender, no frozen drinks, nice and easy. Because of that, the bartender remembered me time and again and I would receive quick service. I tried after the show to join the silent disco, but when I saw the huge crowd trying to participate, I called it a night and retired for the evening. At my room I prepared the next day’s clothes and retired for the day.
NEXT: You may recall a movie called, “A River Runs Through It”. I learn a new meaning for that phrase.