Tales of the High Seas: Voyage on the MSC Seashore
November 15, 2022
My alarm on my watch woke me up. Here is a Tip #1: I am a lark, so I regularly am awake at the crack of dawn. There were areas of the ship where I wanted to take pictures without dealing with hordes of people. I ventured out and took some desired photos quite quickly. I would assume that the same could be true for the night owls reading. After your long night carousing or gambling I would imagine there would be very few people out and about at 2 or 3 am.
Tip #2: Treat yourself to room service. On many cruises a continental breakfast is complimentary. While it is included in your cruise fare, it is very likely that a tip for room service is not included with your pre-paid gratuities or the gratuities they tack onto your bill at the end. Have a few dollars at the ready. Or if you just want to splurge a little go for items that incur a service charge to be delivered to your room.
I started my day with a room service continental breakfast which I had ordered the evening before by placing a hanger note on my doorknob the night before. I had ordered a whole wheat roll with orange marmalade. I also ordered an orange juice. I would have preferred a larger glass of juice. I also ordered a fruit plate that was filled with orange, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, and kiwi. Also included was a pain au chocolate. The theme on this vacation is spilling tea. Today proved no exception when I had an accident with my hot water which spilled across my desk. Thank goodness it was only water. Once breakfast was greedily consumed I packed my trusty day bag for a day at the adult only infinity pool. Did I forget anything? Yes, of course, but a minor preference.
I had the pool all to myself at 8am. I swam around. What a great scene to see the view of the wake of the ship from this pool. Thankfully I had beat the chair hogs and scored a primo lounger adjacent to the pool. As I jotted down notes for my journal there is a film crew preparing filming at the nearby Venchi gelateria. Having a whole infinity pool to yourself all morning long is a fantastic experience. At 11:30 am people started to enter the pool and the pool bar sees a good amount of action. It is as if everyone is finally awake.
Now “a river runs through it” due to the tea and orange juice demanded a visit to the facilities. Thankfully screens are located liberally throughout the ship with maps of deck plans. Even still I managed to get lost. It will happen again soon because that tea is working on my bladder. How many times do I have to find a restroom? I think to myself. I went looking on three separate occasions. Last time a private event blocked one destination. A second attempt I found the restroom was all occupied. On my last visit to the bathroom, I went to my room where I ran into my room steward finally! We had several laughs and he brought me a laundry bag and had already removed my room service refuse.
Somehow, I lucked out with the shade on this bright sunny day. My baseball cap that I picked up in Aruba is fastened tight and the brim is doing its job. I’m learning to embrace “Il Dolce Far Niente”, in other words the “sweetness of doing nothing”.
The section of loungers that were “claimed”, but empty, started to grow. There is a strong breeze along with shade and most I feel are chasing after their Caribbean tan while I embrace my Spotify cruise playlist. What a glorious morning! Thank goodness I brought my clips for my lounger because that wind is something fierce. The film crew is ruining their lunch with a feast of gelato.
Another random thought, “where did my masks go?” I swear they have a tendency to disappear. I maybe the only guest on the ship who wears a mask when indoors, but outdoors I remove it.
Time for lunch! I had lunch in the Central Park main dining room. I started with mushroom soup. This one was more brothy than the NCL one. It was good but not as wonderful as Norwegian Prima. As my main, I ordered an Italian meatball sandwich, which isn’t quite as good as an Italian restaurant back at home. My fries were a welcome addition, but the salad was just meh. I was not ready for the alcohol I had ordered like the LaMarca prosecco I had ordered. I apparently was starting the party early at noon! Even after sipping not even the full flute of prosecco and I am tipsy! I had ordered the New York cheesecake with a choice of chocolate fudge sauce, butterscotch sauce, or berry fruite compote. Being the chocoholic that I am I had the chocolate fudge sauce. The cheesecake was garden variety and was nothing special. Now I know why everyone is ordering ice cream for lunch. This main dining room lunch was a welcome respite from the zoo that is the buffet. I was not feeling jostled or rushed at all. It was a nice, leisurely lunchtime meal on my own. Central Park restaurant had a more upscale feel in appearance. I totally could feel rumbling of the engines the entire time. According to the captain, we are functioning well. I had a great conversation with my wine server at lunch. I believe the engine is low and centered on Project Mille ships. So glad I didn’t end up on deck 5 as once might have happened. A cup of hot tea hit the spot but how will my bladder feel? I spent fifty minutes at lunch for a nice, leisurely experience.
Bring on the sun! I ventured up to Deck 19. I was right above the main pool and the large video screen. It took me a while to unpack and lay out in the sun. I had my tunes cranked up on my noise canceling headphones and created my own personal dance party. At least in my head I was.
I was very frustrated by the fact I had to wade through the crowds of the buffet to get to my spot on the pool deck. That’s just how the decks are laid out. A private event blocked my path. The Solarium was completely full, not an empty lounger in sight. So out on one of the decks surrounding the main pool I go. I would not be surprised if I landed myself next to some other fellow LGBTQ+ travelers. But as usual we are all in our own little worlds. Sure enough, I just got some non-verbal confirmation of my suspicions. Other people would start a conversation. I’m too shy and introverted to reach out. A good strong breeze prevents me from being a big, sweaty mess. It might be time to people watch as they parade on by and I silently judge. I keep on getting corroborating evidence to support my theory about my possible LGBTQ+ neighbors. What straight male duo wears a square trunk that is quite short and bright? Do I spy a hint of a bright colored jock strap? Hmm. I was staying on the sunny, port side of the ship until the rain broke and came pouring down. The rain scattered everyone. My biggest concern that ran through my head was, “Don’t water down my drink!” During the brief rainstorm I ran into Maria. We caught up and then engaged in a conversation about my cocktail with a couple from New York. Maria and I sought refuge under cover at a bar. She got a Blue Hawaiian with lots of rum. I was nursing a Rock Lobster cocktail. Once the rain ended, I continued my conversation with Maria in the sunshine of the port side of the ship.
At 5:00 pm I went to the Solo meet up. I met Maurice, Justine, Lesford, and Dolly. The staff made attempts to mix us all up so we could meet different people. MSC made a nice effort to promote solo travel. Complimentary beverages and snacks were provided. I had the Easy Plus drink package. I could go beyond what was offered. We had an excellent discussion on our discoveries and impressions of MSC and we all were pretty much in agreement. There was a lot of discussion about our experience with embarkation. The staff tried to match us up by language. After an hour, the lights were turned off, not just dimmed. We all disbanded, and I went to head off for my dinner. This brings me to some thoughts. Problems with solo travel – How do you play ping pong? Meals can go quickly without dining discussion. And the bane of the solo traveler is always the solo supplement charge. Positives with solo travel include that you get to do what you want, when you want, without having to consult anyone. There is no consulting or reporting to anyone else.
I decided not to go to the main dining room tonight because it was a formal night, MSC refers to it as Gala night. The evening dress was asked to be elegant. Your attire is asked to fit your own level of elegance. Since I’m traveling light, I did not bring dressier clothes, so I did not participate. MSC has a reputation for being a more casual cruise line. I was only a handful of folks who did not dress up. Most people looked great. A tuxedo was rare, but most looked like they were going to a dinner to celebrate a special event.
Due to the gala night I chose to visit the Marketplace buffet. Good news is that it wasn’t crowded at all. Most were going to specialty dining or a main dining room. The bad news was that much of the area was closed down and unavailable. It makes sense since there are less people, less buffet is needed. It still was confusing. In true form I was continually getting lost. I had a rather lack luster cheeseburger and some French fries with cheese sauce. I’m sure there was ketchup out there but I couldn’t find it. The roast chicken was horrible. The most dry meat I ever consumed. I had to choke it down, literally. I finished my meal with a nice slice of pizza and an assortment of small desserts. The desserts were the highlight. The pastry chef is wonderful and consistent. Each item was perfect. A profiterole with chocolate cream , an incredible torte, and so many other goodies I couldn’t resist.
I went to one of the wall screens and placed a reservation to this evening’s show. On MSC Seashore there seems to be a different show every evening. More on that later. Dinner was at 6 ish and the show was not until 9. By the time I was finished with dinner the early show was still in progress.
To kill time, I ventured to the pool deck for the Long Island bar. A team of about three bartenders greeted me. Only a few patrons were present. Since I was at the Long Island bar, I ordered a Long Island ice tea. It was a relaxing way to while away my time. Once I had my fill, I ventured down to the atrium area of decks 6, 7, and 8.
Keri, the American cruise director and her right-hand person, the activities director conducted an introduction of senior staff. Keri is the first MSC female American cruise director. MSC is entering the 21st century!
My tv was not working properly. It would not shut off. Thankfully, the volume was set very low. I went down to guest services where there was no line to wait. A first for MSC! I was promptly helped by my representative! We both believed that my batteries to my remote needed changing. She made a call to housekeeping. By the time I made it back to my room, my room steward was there and showed me he had fixed the situation. Such a happy, friendly and helpful guy. I was impressed to have the situation fixed so swiftly and satisfactorily, a rarity in the world of MSC.
I went over to the Madison theater to see the Paris show, an ode (very loosely) to all things Parisian. Overall, it was a much better production the previous evening. There was excellent dancing, good singing. There also was a couple of acts focusing on feats of strength and balance. Those men never saw a carbohydrate. When the first guy took off his shirt the crowd went wild. Anytime skin was exposed the audience showed its appreciation. Mind you, this was not a burlesque show. Their performances were impressive. Costume design was much improved with a not to “Belle Epoque” Paris but pushed to a more modern extreme. This time the operatic singer was stylized better. He got a solo moment to shine. Keri introduced the show and I learned that there are 50 nationalities of passengers on board the ship. The multiculturalism is clearly evident because I hear Italian, Portuguese, Spanish everywhere. Do not assume a guest speaks English. The staff all do.
After the show, I decided to retire for the evening in my stateroom. Once again upon my return I re-discovered my feet were swollen. Lots of water, ibuprofen, and propping of my feet up on pillows worked. I was happy to discover on RetroTV, the fourth classic Doctor from Doctor Who was in the thinck of things with the first episode of the last “Key to Time” storyline with Mary Tamm as Romana and Tom Baker as the titular figure. What a treat! I fell asleep as the 2nd episode of this story was airing as I discovered when I awakened about an hour after I had been sleeping for twenty minutes. Time to turn off my tv and I was knocked out immediately.
NEXT: hijinks at the solarium