The MSC Seaside is the Ship to Beat in 2018.

Ahh The Polarizing MSC Seaside.

This ship has mad drama. So much so that we’re being harassed daily on our vlogs. It’s crazy. Let’s start with this is my opinion on what I witnessed and experienced first hand sailing on the MSC Seaside.

I truly believe that the MSC Seaside is the ship to beat in 2018. Not the ship to beat down in 2018. 

To curb the ‘what do you know about cruising’ comments we receive from various Travel Agents: We’ve sailed a total of 18 times. Six of which were in the last six months. We’ve sailed in the Haven on Norwegian six times across three ships. We may not qualify to be seasoned sailors but we have been to muster drill and back more than a few times.

I’ve seen whining and complaining about ships before but not at this level. This is some legit hysteria. I thought the Epic fever was bad, this takes the cake. The MSC Seaside, or the rumor mill that surrounds it, has people outright acting crazy. Countless YouTube videos saying things like “we survived a MSC Cruise” “worst ship out of XX cruises” “I’ll never cruise with MSC again” “the worst cruise ship in the history of cruise ships” Seriously? The worst? REALLY?? (I think the passengers of Titanic and Concordia might challenge that)

Why all the hate? I truly have no idea. This ship has so much drama that I’m currently being trolled by no less than a dozen angry Travel Agents – grown adults, each hell bent on hijacking my posts on our pages and demanding that we concede that MSC is garbage.

These Travel Agents are so disgruntled that they throw all professionalism out the window and start acting like petulant teens. Saying things and doing things that could harm them professionally (as a casual observer I wouldn’t book through these people purely because of how they are behaving online) simply because they believe that the ship is the worst ever. We walked every inch of that ship, with the exception of the Top 19 solarium, and never saw, smelled, or experienced any of the things people are still pounding the tables about.

I can’t say the crazy things people are saying about the Seaside never happened. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m saying it’s no longer happening, things change. Oh yeah, and put down your pitchforks already. I can say that 99% of the complaints I’ve read online are no longer issues.

The Crew.

Super social, extremely friendly and never once was rude or unkind in any way. We chatted with the Captain multiple times. Not a ‘hey’ in passing. We talked with officers many times. Every single crew member asked about our vlogs and asked for business cards so they could watch the show later. The crew was social, friendly and never once was rude. I’ve spoken extensively with two captains on the MSC. One in person and one on social media. I’ve never experienced this on any other line.

The MSC Seaside Is NOT That Different.

Ok every ship is slightly different and every line does things a slightly different way. At the end of the day there are only marginal differences between the lines. People act like the crew on the Seaside have three heads and an agenda to destroy all happiness. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Food.

The Buffet was no where as limited as suggested online. There are two buffets, one is a family buffet that has all of the typical kid / theme park family friendly food, the other has all the same stuff we see on every ship. We’re not buffet people. We work 4am to midnight, seven days a week. We like to sit down and enjoy a less frenetic experience.

Every buffet in the universe is rife with chaos. So many options, so many people going every direction and changing direction at a moments notice. People acting rude, people doing unsanitary things. I just don’t like buffets. That being said, we ate breakfast there once, lunch there twice and several pizza stops throughout the trip, never once being insulted by what the buffet offered.

If you’re a buffet person, I can see you liking NCL or Celebrity more. There’s nothing limiting about the Seaside buffet but I can see how people who eat at the buffet three times a day would want more, comparatively speaking. I did like the self serve drink bars and the bar service buttons on the table. I thought that was a cool idea that I hadn’t seen implemented before.

The fine dining in the Yacht Club and specialty dining was as good or better than any Norwegian Haven or NCL specialty dining. My all time favorite steakhouse at sea used to be Cagney’s on NCL. Now it’s the Butcher’s Cut on MSC. I Love Cagney’s, but the ambiance and the meal was so much better that we did the Butcher’s Cut twice.

The Pizza is the best pizza at sea and rivals all pizzas here in the U.S. with the exception of NYC.

The pasta was unreal. Every pasta dish was INSANELY GOOD. The coffee was the best at sea or land. I used to crave LaVazza until I had MSC cappuccinos, espressos and affogados.

The chocolate and gelato were mind blowing.

The Smells.

I have a lot to say about the smells on the ship. The aroma therapy showers in the Aurea spa smelled amazing. The coffee smelled heavenly. The chocolate smelled divine. Never smelled foul odors. Never smelled fuel or sewage.

The Entertainment.

It was good. As good or better than most cruise ship entertainment. It doesn’t compare to the unreal entertainment that we experienced on the Allure, but compared to all of the other ships the Seaside entertainment did not disappoint. Booking shows on the app was crazy easy. The singers, dancers, acrobats and gymnasts were all fantastic. The theater is small, I’m 6’2” and my knees were in the back of the seat in front of me. The theater also runs hot. I had to remove my jacket when watching shows. Other than those two things, I had no issues with the entertainment. For the record I saw no operas on the schedule, there absolutely was several comedy shows and the Cruise Director did introduce the shows and follow up after every show telling you what’s going on next.

Ziplines, Formula F1 Simulator, Interactive Motion Theater, Bowling, Arcade, Billiards, Spa, Sports Bar, Slides, Tons of Shopping, Chocolate Bar, there’s no shortage of things to do.

The Announcements:

You have to be kind of a subpar human to take a stance against other people obtaining information in their native language. But yes, please perpetuate the US stereotype of us being ignorant and arrogant by suggesting the rest of the world get on board with our language. They speak multiple languages at the parks here in Orlando, yet I don’t see the same people griping about that. Yes all announcements are in multiple languages. MSC has an international audience and appeal. They are legit rockstars in Europe. They are newish to our continent, not to cruising.

No, the audience on the Seaside is not 95% English speaking. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. As if that guest took an unofficial survey and literally polled half the ship. So often during the announcements we heard people yelling “learn English” or “Why do they speak in multiple languages when it’s 95% Americans on board?” Well, Mr. Bridge Builder, your stats are obviously not correct.

The Space.

I’m a huge fan of design, architecture and engineering. If you’re a fan of where art and engineering live then you will appreciate the MSC Seaside. This is a beautiful ship with some really great spaces and good ideas. The first really good idea? MSC put a deck over your life boats. It’s aesthetically pleasing to hide the boats and by doing so created a MASSIVE amount of additional deck space.

The MSC Seaside is a uniquely beautiful blend of design, architecture and engineering.

The Atrium on the MSC Seaside is just plain cool. I truly enjoyed how MSC utilized this space.

The Pools.

Three big pools, one indoors / solarium concept. Four if you count the Yacht Club. Countless hot tubs and deck space for days. Not entirely sure what there is to complain about. The kids loved the Jungle Pool depth as they were allowed to jump and play in a way they normally cannot. I understand the comment about pool depth and wanting them all to be more shallow, there’s a flipside to that. If you have dozens of people standing in shallow water for long periods of time, even though the depth is 3 feet or less, by the time you photograph that pool in the afternoon you’re unable to see the bottom. Call it sunscreen, filth or worse that’s what you’re standing in.

The Bars.

More than I can count, never had a problem finding a drink. No clue why this is a complaint. There were so many bar servers that we were asked multiple times if we wanted drinks, we never searched for a server. Not once. We visited the bar at the Buffet, the Seaside bar in the Atrium, the Sports Bar, the Yacht Club Bar and the Chocolate bar. We were never ignored, we were never treated poorly and the service & drinks were excellent.

The Elevators.

Again with people over exaggerating for effect. These elevators were no where near as frustrating as those found on lines with much fewer banks. Yes there are priority elevators for the Yacht Club guests. We didn’t use that privilege very often. Why? Because only one elevator per bank can go priority and we like to use stairs as much as possible.

Most of the time you’d wait less for a regular elevator versus a priority one. Yes an elevator can go priority even though you’re waiting for one. No, not all elevators are able to go priority for Yacht Club guests. No an elevator cannot go priority with you in it, unless you did something like ride down to go up.

There is only one elevator per bank that can be usurped by suite level guests. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read people saying that every elevator is priority. It’s not, they never were and this never happened. No more than 25% (usually 1 out of 4 elevators) have the ability to go priority for a guest. So 75% of the elevators are operating as any other elevators on any other ship. Have people boarded an up elevator when they wanted to go down? Have people done the “I’ll ride down to go up” trick and gotten ‘stuck’ in a priority elevator? Yep. I saw it numerous times. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in an elevator where people cram in and start mashing upper level buttons feverishly and start to panic, yelling that the elevator is broken and won’t go to their floor. No, you walked on to a down elevator. That’s what that arrow means. If you’re on deck 8 and want to go to deck 16, don’t grab a down elevator. You have no idea where the elevator is going and just because you jumped in doesn’t mean you get to throw a temper tantrum when the elevator now becomes inconvenient for you. Dibs isn’t universally recognized elevator etiquette. Most of the elevator issues are due to people not paying attention. I watched a passenger get a whole crowd riled up while waiting for elevators. She kept pointing at the priority elevator and demanding that every one was priority. It wasn’t. In five minutes she unknowingly pointed to the same elevator several times. Bad timing, not paying attention and assuming the world is out to get you will lead you to think this way. Not only did I verify the elevator situation personally, I asked the officers who confirmed, there are no bays that have all priority elevators.

What is the MSC Seaside Really Like?

It’s like a modern Vegas casino. Very much like the Cosmopolitan, SLS or Planet Hollywood.

Being a tall guy I’ll tell you that I noticed the deck heights being much shorter than those on other lines. It never bothered me but I can understand those complaints. By no means a deal breaker but it is different. Similar to many Vegas properties, the ship is dark and reflective. It’s beautiful. Truly a remarkable combination of design and engineering. It really does remind me of the SLS Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan or Planet Hollywood in many ways. Some people will find the compartmentalization of the MSC Seaside to be a detriment. I see it the opposite. I think the MSC Seaside layout is a clever way to maintain 4,000+ people. It’s superb crowd control that never felt like a crowded ship.

People tend to extrapolate and exaggerate. We know this. Stef and I are both former Disney Cast Members. One of the many things you learn while working for Disney is that if a guest is disgruntled they will go out of their way to tell as many people as they can and each time the story gets a little better, a little more salacious. So when one thing goes wrong, people tend to assume that thing happens to everyone or that thing always happens. This is how rumors get started and fly out of control.

The complaints and the rumors about the Seaside were so bad that for the first time ever we second guessed our trip. We’ve never done that. Before we boarded we asked ourselves if we could handle “seven days of pure hell.”  We were mentally prepared for a lousy experience. We went in expecting the worst. What we found was a modern take on cruising that was pleasantly refreshing. Different but familiar. We’ve sailed with NCL 16 times and felt very comfortable on the MSC Seaside.

The truth is that we would jump back on the ship tomorrow If we could.

Cruising is what you make of it. Bad things can and do happen. There is no perfect cruise or perfect ship. You decide how much things get to you, what percentage of your trip, if any, is ruined by the event. You could be seeing bad in everything once you’re angry. You could also be assuming things and not looking at the situation objectively. Was the crew member rude or did you use some kind of idiom that isn’t universal? Perhaps they didn’t hear you? Quite often we witness the ‘rude crew’ and it turns out it was the guest.

When we were on the Allure we went to the Steakhouse for my birthday. I didn’t get a big Transatlantic Monkey Birthday like some people (heehee) I got a nice meal on a nice ship. Well some jerk next to me decided to play the entitled misogynist card and attempt to eviscerate the Maitre D in front of the entire restaurant. This guy was out of control. So much so that I wanted to pick him up, toss his frail body over my shoulder and hurl him overboard. He was psycho and completely unfounded in his actions. (For the record there’s never a good time to destroy someone publicly) He was so bad that if this had happened on land someone would have called the cops. Well the crew saw the whole thing and wasn’t happy about it. They were visibly shaken by the acts of a truly bad person. They still served him but the servers were short and not all that accommodating. Were they rude? Nope. As a result, we didn’t get the best, most happy service either. I wasn’t mad at the servers. I didn’t go online and fire the place up. I didn’t throw a temper tantrum. We, much like the crew, didn’t want anything to do with the behavior of that man. So now my birthday dinner isn’t what we wanted. Was it ruined? You could say that and be justified. We opted out of that thought process. We were both upset, truly. Not at the service, but at the way this man harmed others. It bothered us for a while. We talked about it with each other and made a conscious decision to not let it ruin our night.

Did we go online and troll every person who posted positively about the Allure? No. Even when we we went on a cruise and had a cabin that had serious mechanical / structural issues, it shook so bad the glassware was falling off the shelves and we had a parade of officers inspecting it for days, we still made the best of it. And we went back on that ship a few months later and had the time of our lives. Your experiences are what you choose to make of them.

The MSC Seaside really is my favorite ship at the moment.

I truly believe that the MSC Seaside is the ship to beat in 2018. Not the ship to beat down in 2018.

Sean Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, VFX Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CEO & Lead Designer of Rampant Design, Inc. He is a 3 Time Emmy Award Winner and former Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot. Sean is married to the AMAZING Stef IRL.

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