So, as you'll know from my previous posts you'll know that our recent cruise on the MSC Seaview was our honeymoon. We got married on May 26th and went back to work for a couple of weeks before joining the inaugural voyage of the ship.
I don't want to repeat my previous posts with the first impressions of the ship - you can read that here: First thoughts
The itinerary for this cruise was Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valletta, Sea Day, Barcelona. A very familiar Western-Meditteranean itinerary, but what a perfect way to celebrate the launch of a new ship and our marriage. We'd visited all of these ports before, so we knew that for us the ship would be the destination, with the addition of an excursion to the beautiful island of Capri.
With that in mind, we found that we didn't leave the ship in any of the other ports, particularly as our cruise over the Christmas period covers all of these ports with the exception of Malta.
To best cover the experience on this ship I'll cover it in a few areas....
We stayed in a Fantastic grade balcony cabin, 13236. We found the cabin plenty big enough with a shower room. The shower had a nice glass enclosure (no curtain- yay!) Clothes storage was perhaps at a premium compared to some of the other ships with a lack of drawer space, however as this is 'The ship that follows the sun" it stands to reason that most cruises will be a week or two at most, therefore there is ample space for that amount of time.
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As mentioned in my preliminary thoughts, our first table on our first night in the Silver Dolphin restaurant wasn't too great - the restaurant opened late and the food had by that time dried out and wasn't appetising - far removed from the MSC we know. the service was slow and wasn't the most friendly we've ever experienced.
After the following morning's breakfast we were assigned to the MyChoice dining section in the Golden Sands restaurant after meeting with Camilla who had been our maitre d' on the MSC Meraviglia in November.
That evening the experience was incredibly different - waiters who really knew their stuff, slick and efficient, friendly service from our waiter Alan from Honduras - again someone we've met on previous cruises.
The tables in both restaurants were, as is common on large mass-market ships pretty close together but far enough apart to keep conversation to ourselves as a couple.
MSC Seaview has a number of dining options, the complimentary options for guests in the main ship - ie not Yacht Club are the Golden Sands formal restaurant from breakfast and lunch, on an open-seating basis, your assigned restaurant for dinner and the two buffets - the main buffet being on deck 8 aft with terraces on both sides of the ship and a smaller buffet on deck 16.
Extra-charge speciality restaurants are the L'Atelier Bistrot on Deck 8, surrounding the atrium, and on Deck 16 the Chef's Court concept with the Asian Fusion restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi offering sushi and teppan yaki, Ocean Cay seafood restaurant by Two Michelin Star chef Ramon Freixa and the Butchers Cut steakhouse. In the middle of this area is a stunning wine and cocktail bar.
As black card holders we were able to savour a complimentary meal in one of the speciality restaurants and chose Ocean Cay on the basis the food would be something different to usual - we dined twice in the Teppan Yaki on MSC Meraviglia so were excited to experience something new.
We were not disappointed! The taster selection menu available as a loyalty perk offered a choice of three course meal. We opted for oysters, fish and chips and a melon soup. Ramon himself was onboard ensuring the dishes were up to his exacting standards and I have to say this was probably the best food we have eaten whilst at sea.
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One thing to note about this area is that it can only be accessed from the forward lifts. Not a problem, but don't go to Deck 16 Aft with the expectation of walking forward to the restaurants!
Food and drink highlights
So, a key part of any cruise holiday is the food and drink. As seasoned MSC cruisers we are perhaps becoming too familiar with the menus, however this gives us the ability to understand how the food on a particular ship is compared to the other ships in the fleet we have been on.
The Elegant Night menus on MSC ships are curated by the two celebrity chefs who work in partnership with MSC - Italian Carlo Cracco - host of MasterChef and Spanish Ramon Freixa. The menus on both of these nights offer, in my opinion, an excellent choice of dishes. Not to be missed are the 'Chef's specials' on the left hand side of the menu under their picture is the details of their dish designed for MSC.
Cracco's braised blade of beef with pomegranate and Freixa's duck royale (duck with foie gras) were both excellently thought out and well put together dishes, with a balance of flavour and beautiful presentation. We'd not tried either of these before as we'd not properly read that side of the menu!
Carlo Cracco's Elegant menu:
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Ramon Freixa's Elegant menu:
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Beverage wise the choice available on the all inclusive drinks packages is extremely varied, with something to suit every taste. We took the All Inclusive Restaurants and Bars Deluxe package and were able to enjoy all of our drinks without the worry of a large bill at the end of the cruise.
The Champagne bar on deck 7 serves Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne which is included in the deluxe package - great digestif to enjoy. A selection of oysters and other seafood is also available from this bar - we enjoyed three oysters here on our first evening at a cost of €9 together with a couple of glasses of champagne. Daniel, Anna Maria and Anastasia here work incredibly well as a team - as it's not too busy they have time for a bit of a chat. It was wonderful to see them again after previously meeting them on other ships.
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Over our years of cruising we have noticed that when getting onboard a new ship most passengers will find a venue they gravitate to. On MSC Seaview for us it was the Seaside Lounge on Deck 8, with the excellent service of Tayla, Gusti and Pun creating a great atmosphere. This bar offers a wide selection of cocktails and wines, as well as the usual beverages. The entertainment in here in the evening was a jazz singer whose voice was second to none, with almost as much depth as Nina Simone.
Over the way from the Seaside Lounge is the Sports Bar, with a number of screens showing various different sports. We were absolutely delighted to see Francisco from MSC Fantasia and MSC Meraviglia in this bar, and he seemed genuinely pleased to see us too. The Sports Bar has a wide selection of beers both on draught and by the bottle, as well as various cocktails and mixed drinks.
Both theSports Bar and the Seaside Lounge have access to the outside promenade, with seating readily available.
Seaview has a multitude of other bars - we made it our mission to get round them all, and I think we succeeded! It'd take too long to write something about all of them, however I will just mention the area in the Piazza around the Chocolate Factory where the evening's entertainment is a party band with some great tracks and the Panorama Bar on Deck 16 offering your usual pool-side favourites as well as those ever-so tempting creamy cocktails - Molten Lava anyone??
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MSC Seaview offered something entirely different from any ship we have ever been on, and what an experience it was. Unlike MSC Meraviglia which was inward focussed on the extravagant central promenade, Seaview is all about connecting you with the outside and the sea.
Each bar had plenty of seating, and with the design of the ship the added bonus is that the bar areas all have a different atmosphere and feeling. This ship never felt crowded, even on our day at sea - probably because of the high number of balcony cabins, the promenade and the deck space.
There is an abundance of activities, from ten pin bowling, the longest zip-line at sea, an aqua park, rope bridges, the casino (I had an excellent stroke of luck on our final night!) a beautiful theatre, gym, spa, three swimming pools available for the general ship's population, arcade games, live music... It would be impossible to become bored on this ship.
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So, I've often written of my love affair with the line's previous flagship MSC Fantasia for its timeless beauty and elegance (hard to believe she is now ten years old!) So, how does MSC Seaview compare?
Well, she's obviously much bigger and newer. Strip that away and what you have is a ship with the undoubted feel of an MSC Ship, public areas that flow from one to another and of course those sparkly stairs. I had previously said that it would be hard to improve on Fantasia, but, with Seaside and Seaview I think MSC have done it!
This holiday, despite the small niggles on the first night which should be expected with any new restaurant / hotel / cruise ship, was a great success. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to the wonderful crew for making our holiday what it was!