Doug talks with Mark and Rocky of TheCruiseLife this week about their nine-night cruise aboard MSC Meraviglia.
They dive into their bougie MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club experience, from exclusive embarkation to dedicated amenities like a butler, private lounge, dining room, and sun deck. They discuss the superior dining options, including specialty dishes and a unique cheese trolley, and the benefits of their status-matching loyalty program status.
One of MSC Cruises’ larger vessels, Mark and Rocky also touch on the onboard entertainment, the ship’s atmosphere, and ports of call, including a visit to MSC’s private island, Ocean Cay.
Find Rock and Mark’s coverage of MSC Meraviglia:
- ThisCruiseLife YouTube channel features their cruises across all lines.
- The MSC Meraviglia playlist has several videos from their sailing.
- Read the MSC Yacht Club experiences on ThisCruiseLife website.
MSC Meraviglia Review Transcript
Doug (00:01:01) – Mark and Rocky had just returned from a nine-night cruise aboard MSC Maravilla. It was out of New York City, in the Bahamas, Florida area, and staying in the yacht club. They join us on the line right now. Hey, guys, how are you?
Guest (00:01:16) – Good, Doug.
Doug (00:01:17) – I’m excited to talk about this because we haven’t had an MSC Yacht Club experience in a long time. We’ve had the ones that were like three-nighters and were fast, but I’m excited to hear what it’s like spending extended time beyond seven nights in that yacht club. So what we’ll do here before we get started, we’ll get some pre-cruise thoughts. You’re in the Phoenix area. What made you want to take this nine-niner out of New York City.
Guest (00:01:40) – Honestly, it was just the idea of getting to check out a new cruise line. We’ve been looking at MSC for a long time, and the idea that sailing out of New York in the heart of January, when it is very cold outside, uh, the pricing was very lucrative to get ourselves onto that ship, as well as to fly across the country to New York.
Guest (00:02:01) – So all the stars aligned and just made it worthwhile for us.
Doug (00:02:04) – Now, there were some, uh, a little bit of weather going through the country about the time when you all boarded. It might have missed you by a day or two. Did that impact your flights going into Manhattan?
Guest (00:02:14) – It did not impact the flights at all. It did impact sail away a bit. Um, as you can imagine, uh, the storms, uh, it was pretty rocky on the seas. Uh, it was really cool because it was the first time ever.
So we’ve been to Alaska several times, but it was the first time ever we’ve actually seen snow on a cruise ship. And so to see the crew, it was the first time many had seen snow on a cruise ship. And they were out running out, uh, TikTok ING and taking selfies. It was a really special experience, uh, being able to see that snowstorm.
Doug (00:02:48) – That is so cool.
Doug (00:02:49) – So did you any pre cruise time in the city before boarding in Brooklyn?
Guest (00:02:57) – You know, we always suggest that the best way to do it is to fly a day ahead of time. Uh, this time we flew in two days in advance to take some time and explore Brooklyn, because that’s where the cruise terminal is for MSC. And then we also took the subway into Manhattan and just kind of hung around Times Square, went to a couple of bars, a couple of restaurants, and, uh, just kind of got ourselves situated in New York before we set sail. We met up with we met up with one of, uh, the solo’s that I met on board, uh, Norwegian Cruise Line. So I did a Norwegian cruise line earlier in 2023. Uh, we met a bunch of solos in our solo cabins, and we actually met up with them to hang out, and they showed us New York, which was a ton of fun.
Guest (00:03:36) – You see.
Doug (00:03:36) – You never know what connections you’ll make on a ship, right? Right.
Guest (00:03:39) – Exactly.
Doug (00:03:40) – Yeah. It’s it’s so awesome. So you make your way to Brooklyn the following day and you go to embark MSC Maravilla. How was that embarkation process? And, did you get any kind of special treatment embarking since you were in the Yacht Club?
Guest (00:03:54) – Goodness gracious. It was an embark like none that I’ve ever experienced. We’ve all been through embark. We know the lines, we know the queues. We know all of the seating areas. Um, the moment that we got there, immediately there was signage for yacht club. And so the, the, the porter, the luggage porter whisked us over and tagged our bags with yacht club tags and pointed us to his colleague standing at the door with a yacht club sign. They literally escorted us through the terminal to our own dedicated security line for yacht club. Um, they didn’t have a they didn’t have us waiting in the general queue.
Guest (00:04:28) – And so we went through that security queue, uh, very quickly. And another, yet another Yacht Club representative whisked us to our private lounge, where they did one on one check ins with us, um, and then handed us glasses of champagne and canapés and sparkling water. Um, and it was a private area, very quiet, very secluded from the rest of the terminal. And we enjoyed mimosas and, uh, sparkling water, uh, that as we waited to board the ship.
Doug (00:04:57) – How long did it take you from curb to ship, then?
Guest (00:05:00) – It took us about an hour and a half. So unfortunately the the sailing before ours was the New Year’s cruise. And so they had a lot of passengers to disembark from that ship. So they were slightly delayed on clearing the ship down to zero counts for us to start the embark process. So yeah, about an hour and a half from when we arrived. Fortunately, the lounge was great. We had butlers in there waiting on us, so it was a really pleasant experience getting to stand around and wait until the ship was ready.
Guest (00:05:28) – Literally. Butlers, butlers, refilling our champagne glasses, walking around with bottles of champagne, saying, oh, would you like a refill on your champagne? Well, okay. Yes, we would love that.
Doug (00:05:38) – It’s like being stuck in an airport and being able to be in an airline lounge instead of in the regular common area, right? Just kind of, uh. Yeah, yeah, living it up in there. So you make your way on board the ship. You’re mentioning this was your first time on the ship. So what were your first impressions of MSC Meraviglia?
Guest (00:05:54) – So it’s kind of funny you ask that we didn’t actually get to see the whole ship for the first four hours that we were on board when they when the yacht club boards, we get priority boarding service. So they bring us into the main atrium, and that’s about the most of the ship we get to see. From there, we walk down a corridor of rooms to the very forward of the ship, where they have elevators that they can badge in, giving you priority access to the elevator.
Guest (00:06:21) – They loaded us into these elevators and took us up to the 16th deck where the topsail lounges, which is the exclusive lounge space for the top or the yacht club. Uh, and they put us in there with, again, more champagne and more canapés and live music that was being performed for us. So we spent most of the first four hours on board in that topsail lounge. Well, they took us from the Topsail Lounge. Then they opened up the Topsail Restaurant, the exclusive restaurant for yacht clubbers. And so we literally went from canapés and champagne up to the lunch in the Topsail restaurant.
Normally we run around taking pictures and exploring the ship. We literally were just kind of in the lap of luxury those first several hours onboard. Oh, we met our butler as well during that time. And so we didn’t actually leave the yacht club as Rocky mentioned, until about four hours after boarding.
Doug (00:07:12) – So a lot to unpack here. So I want to actually take a step back.
Doug (00:07:15) – And I want to ask, um, we were chatting before we started recording here, and you mentioned you had an upgrade offer. So how much of a premium, um, once you accept that upgrade, is it for the yacht club against just staying in a regular balcony cabin?
Guest (00:07:29) – So that’s exactly what we had booked. We booked a balcony cabin and received an offer to bid on an upgrade. Now, because we had already booked that balcony and paid for a balcony, the upgrade amount was not wildly expensive. I think it was. We we could have started the upgrade process offer at $300 per person. Wow. And Rocky was like, okay, should we just start there? And I was like, how often will we get to stay in the yacht club? We are maxing that bit out. And so I think we each maxed our bid out at about $600. So for another $1,200 or so plus tax and all of that stuff, um, we could move from the balcony we had into.
Guest (00:08:09) – We actually dug and bid for an interior yacht club cabin because we were like, okay, we’re just gonna make sure we get into this thing. Well, they were they must have been sold out because our dreams were answered. We got the upgrade and they put us into a deluxe suite.
Doug (00:08:24) – I love it. Let’s discuss that deluxe suite in the yacht club and give us all the details.
Guest (00:08:30) – As you walk in, the first thing that meets your eye is the size of this cabin. I would say that this cabin is the same depth as your standard balcony cabin that you find on any cruise ship. However, the width is probably equivalent to one and a half to anywhere up to two times the width of a standard balcony cabin. Huge space, um, between the foot of the bed and the credenza and wall units that they had where all of the minibar was located. There was probably a good 4 to 5ft of space between those two areas. Um, inside the bathroom, it was upgraded amenities.
Guest (00:09:05) – You had marble tile throughout, a very large, spacious walk in shower with a rainfall head, uh, or the rain shower head. Um, the balcony was the same width as the room, so it was a pretty sizable balcony. They only put two chairs and one side table out there, but you could have easily had another two. Uh, very large and spacious room.
Doug (00:09:29) – So the question is, how do you use the butler on your cruise? Well.
Guest (00:09:33) – You know, because we often have butlers on our cruises. Uh, I kid, um, it was the first experience. And so literally the butler introduced himself. We were in the room. He he knocked and came in and he said, what questions do you have for me? And we said, well, we don’t even know what questions to ask. And so he’s like, well, let’s start with your pillow selections. Are your pillows up to your liking? And Rocky joked, he’s like, well, we’ll sleep on him tonight and let you know.
Guest (00:09:59) – Um, but but the. Butler took care of our minibar, so he asked us specifically for our preferences in terms of sodas, juices and beers.
He asked for our liquor selection because the yacht club comes with a bottle, comes with bottle service, a single bottle. And so we, uh, we shared our, uh, bottle selection with him, and then he just let us know that he would be the person that would escort us to dinners if we wanted. He would escort us to the theater for shows.
He would arrange our bookings if we wanted to go to any specialty restaurant. And so it was, you know, Rocky and I asked as we were getting ready, we’re like, is this just going to be an upgraded room steward, like a room steward that wears a suit? Um, and no, it was it was significantly more than just a room steward. In fact, we had a junior butler as well and, and a third person who helped service the room.
Guest (00:10:50) – So there were three people servicing the room. But that Butler experience was really unique and new to us. Yes, I love it.
Doug (00:10:58) – So you were on there for nine nights. Was there enough space in your room to put everything?
Guest (00:11:01) – Yeah, there was um, I think one of the challenges that we discovered when we were unpacking our room was the closet space was a little bit smaller than what we’re used to on some of the other balcony rooms that we’ve had in the past. Um, the way it’s set up, you walk in and the, the closet space is your entrance to the bathroom.
And so it’s kind of a strange layout. We discovered that there were some challenges with that. However, there was a three-drawer storage space in the main room area that was part of the main. I don’t know what you call it. Credenza. Yeah. And so that actually made up for some of that lost space. And fortunately, these beds were designed to hold luggage under or suitcases under them.
Guest (00:11:41) – It was easy to unpack our room and get moved in for those nine days. Oh, and don’t forget both of the nightstands next to the bed. So there were additional storage tables next to the bed as well. And so there was plenty of storage. But to Rocky’s point that the closet seemed to be a little bit smaller than than other rooms.
Doug (00:11:59) – ThYacht Club is like Norwegian’s Haven, a ship within a ship concept. So outside of your room, what amenities did you have within your ship?
Guest (00:12:07) – I’m telling you, they design it so you don’t have to leave the yacht club. They tell you when you’re going through the booking process. They say it’s exclusive and it’s private. And that is very true. And so the entrance to the yacht club on each of the floors are glass doors. Truly. They look out into the elevator bank. I think MSC has designed it so that people can see in and you can see out, but you have to badge in and out to get in.
Guest (00:12:33) – And so the spaces are beautiful. They’ve got those crystal staircases. What are those crystals? The Swarovski, Swarovski, uh, staircases, the spiral staircases. So we would leave our room and take the staircase up to the next deck. Uh, the 16th deck, which is where the concierge was at the Topsail lounge. Topsail lounge was windows all at the front of the ship.
The view of of New York, we commented that was probably the best view of New York we’ve ever had in that topsail lounge. Oh yeah, the canopy. Like, there’s just so much to unpack in that, um, the full bar.
And then again, you take up another spiral staircase and you are there at the exclusive restaurant, and then one more spiral staircase up, and you are at deck 19, which is your dedicated, uh, lounging space, pool, and hot tub. There’s a daily buffet that they put up there for, for just yacht club guests, along with a bar.
Doug (00:13:23) – Let’s talk about some of the food on MSC Maravilla.
Doug (00:13:26) – Once you get out of your haven complex and go to the buffet with the common folk, how was the buffet and the food throughout the nine days?
Guest (00:13:34) – So we didn’t discover the buffet area until that first night. It was the second day that we discovered it. Yeah. Uh, now that I think back on the experience, um, we like to refer to those areas as Jen and Pop. And, uh, as we walked in to the buffet, we were we kind of felt like we were in someone else’s place. We didn’t feel like we knew that our way around, because we had spent so much time on the ship before we found the buffet. But once we did find it, I’ll tell you, Doug, we spent a good amount of time there, especially for late-night buffets. Uh, this was the first time that we’d really seen a cruise line dedicate a late-night buffet to its passengers consistently. Every night from midnight until 2 a.m..
Guest (00:14:14) – They served food. And we’re not just talking about just, you know, a quick little grab here and there. They have their pizzas available. They have little small sandwiches that you could grab. They had burgers and hot dogs. They sometimes had nachos. Sometimes, they would do a breakfast with some scrambled eggs and bacon every night. I think I got scrambled eggs and bacon every single night of the cruise.
They had the healthy corner like they had salads. And so it wasn’t even just that fried stuff that you sometimes find on the late night buffet. They had salads in a healthy corner. I mean, it was the largest. So we’ve seen late night buffets right on Carnival. We’ve seen it on, uh, we’ve seen it on the other lines. This was the I mean, it was the size of a regular buffet at from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.. It brought me back to old days of cruising.
Doug (00:14:57) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sounds like it. So for your main. You were mentioning.
Doug (00:15:01) – You had your dining room in the topsail area. So how was the dining in the yacht club, and was there much of a selection like, do they rotate the menus? How does that play out?
Guest (00:15:12) – Very much a dedicated menu for the, uh, those that were in the yacht club. Um, the options that they, they had on the menu, there was some mirroring that happened to the main dining rooms on the ship, but they were elevated to a different level with the offerings and the types of food. Uh, there was a selection of classics that were served every night.
For example, you could get your classic filet mignon, or a salmon would be available. And I think they also had a lobster on that classics menu. On the classics menu, you had lobster and filet mignon. I mean, this is this is next level here. Right. And then uh, for the regular offerings every day they had a rotation of several different items. Usually there was a daily result of that was available.
Guest (00:15:53) – There was also a different daily lamb that was on the menu. Uh, so definitely a higher caliber of food offerings on the menu. And the way that they were prepared and plated were very beautiful. Uh, you had, of course, your main waiter and then you had your, your waiters’ assistants and they would all work in harmony together to deliver your breads, appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Speaking of desserts, don’t forget that the maitre d would flambé the dessert. So we had cherries jubilee one night where he flambé and served that, um, they, they did the cheese trolley where they would literally, they literally had a cheese trolley where you could choose the cheeses and, and jams and jellies that you wanted as part of your dessert option. It was it was definitely. Where do you find a risotto on a cruise on the difficulty to actually prepare that correctly for the masses. Um, you can’t do that. But you can in a private small restaurant that’s dedicated to a subset of your passengers.
Doug (00:16:53) – And how were the lines up there?
Guest (00:16:57) – We don’t know what you mean by lines.
Doug (00:17:00) – Fair enough.
Guest (00:17:02) – Yeah, because there was such a small capacity within the yacht club itself on the ship. Right. And because you only have those people that have access to it, our dining times for dinner was available from 6 p.m. until 830.
That was when you could get seated, and it was open to your time. Whenever you wanted to go in, you would show up. There was one knife that I can think of, and I believe it was the second gala night. We had to wait maybe three minutes, maybe get seated. Yeah. Um, overall, the amount of seating that they have both in the lounge and the restaurant are ample for the number of people that are in there, and they know that they’re going to turn over tables throughout the evening from guests that are doing early versus later dining.
Doug (00:17:42) – Did you enjoy any specialty dining on board this one?
Guest (00:17:45) – So this sailing specifically, we chose to stick to the yacht club so that we could capture each of the menus and actually record some reviews each dinner. We actually are right now looking at booking, uh, another MSC cruise, we committed to ourselves that we would do a yacht club and we would do non-Yacht Club. And so that is where that’s sailing, where we plan to actually explore some of those additional, um, upstairs upcharge specialty restaurants. But for this sailing we literally stuck to the Yacht Club restaurant. That exclusive restaurant.
Doug (00:18:16) – I meant to ask you, before you sailed, did you do the status match with them?
Guest (00:18:20) – Yeah, both of us actually ended up doing status match. Um, with Mark having diamond status with Carnival and I have platinum status, we were both able to match into their gold status or gold level with the Voyagers club.
Doug (00:18:33) – So you stepped right into gold. So do you know, like what that gets you compared to just being a first-time MSC cruiser?
Guest (00:18:39) – Great question.
Guest (00:18:40) – Because, uh, MSC is not known for their loyalty program having the strongest perks, but what it did get us is it it got us a welcome back reception where they had cocktails, which when you’re in the yacht club, it doesn’t really have a huge impact. Uh, because we had champagne up and up in our private lounge.
We also got a little gift. It was a little backpack or drawstring backpack that we got. There’s also when you’re part of the when you’re part of the loyalty program, you get a discount on sailings with MSC, and on future sailings with MSC. And so I think it’s a 5% discount that you get as, as a member of that level. And so there are some perks.
They don’t actually do priority. Like many lines have priority boarding and don’t do that until you hit their very top level, which is diamond. And that’s the only group with priority boarding and demarcation. So that’s our goal. My goal is to hit Diamond on Carnival and MSC.
Guest (00:19:36) – We’ll see how long it takes.
Doug (00:19:37) – Double diamond. There you go.
Guest (00:19:39) – I like it I like.
Doug (00:19:40) – That. How about around the ship like you mentioned Carnival. So we’ll stick with that. Uh, they have the guys burger joint, which is complimentary dining. Does MSC have anything like that around the ship? Kind of a grab and go type place. Yeah.
Guest (00:19:52) – So, uh, it was kind of surprised. And that was one of the conversations that we had at Post Cruise is the fact that there really aren’t those. Types of grab and go quick serve restaurants on board. You do have the buffet, which is very well divided. They have their ethnic corner and they have their pastas, and they have a pizza spot and some burgers, but it’s really only confined to that area as well as the main dining restaurant restaurants. Aside from that, everything is upcharge. They have a Mexican place that’s an upcharge. They have, uh, I can’t remember all of them. There’s a there’s a couple other ones.
Guest (00:20:27) – One thing that I would call out that was unique, that I’ve never seen before on any of our sailings, is they had a kid’s buffet, a dedicated buffet for the kids so that they didn’t have to be in the main area of the buffet. And then the only other kind of separate areas that they had were out on the lido deck.
They had that kind of they had like side buffets. It was the same buffet food on the inside of the buffet, but it was just right outside on Lido, so you didn’t have to go in. But there was no you know, I think about even Celebrity Apex had the burger and fries station and Carnival and all of their side restaurants that they have that are included. None of that. It is focused on the buffet and their and their main dining room for the included options.
Doug (00:21:10) – Let’s discuss the entertainment on board Maravilla. I know that MSC gave up the Cirque partnership located at the back of the ship. What’s going on back there now?
Guest (00:21:22) – So I will say that we were pleasantly surprised with the show performances that were put on in the main Broadway theater, which is their main theater in the forward of the ship. We actually attended one of the Meet the cast type of, uh, presentations, if you will, and we had a really great interaction with them.
We found out that all of the shows in that forward lounge were designed specifically for that cast and this ship. So in all, we were very impressed and enjoyed all of the shows we saw in that forward lounge. Now, going to your question about Cirque du Soleil partnership, you can see that there still is some residual, um, design with the shows that they have in that back lounge that does still exist, they still do aerial acts, and we very much enjoyed those performances. But one thing to be aware of is MSC still continues to consider that an upcharge and add-on type of experience.
Guest (00:22:20) – So if you buy it on the ship, it’s $18 a person to get into one of those shows. The nice thing is they sweeten the deal because they throw a drink at you that you can enjoy during the show, but it’s definitely a bit different of an experience than what we’ve seen on most of the other cruise lines.
Doug (00:22:37) – Gotcha. And did you guys, uh, like, what kind of show was you mentioned? It was like an acrobatics thing, but it was just an MSC-branded show.
Guest (00:22:47) – Yeah. So they put on a magic show. Houdini is the name of the show. And so there’s a lot of singing, dancing, acrobats flying through the air, and a little juggling and jumping out into the audience. And so definitely had, I would say Cirque vibes, but just not with the branding. But to Rocky’s point, they’re still charging that upcharge for the Cirque like show.
Doug (00:23:10) – Gotcha. Okay. Historically, MSC Cruise Entertainment is more visual and less like comedians because of the international audience. Is it like this on MSC Meraviglia?
Guest (00:23:22) – Actually, no. I feel like there was a lot, a lot of the presentations that we saw were done primarily in English, surprisingly. Okay. Uh, the one thing that caught us off guard was the overhead announcements.
Anytime the captain would make his announcements, it would always be done by the captain. Again in Italian. Uh, during the safety briefings when we were on the embark day, they were doing announcements in both English and Mandarin. For safety reasons, there were so many Mandarin-speaking passengers on board. But overall, most of the shows were done and performed in English leading up to the show’s start.
They would do a couple of announcements in Mandarin and Italian and English and German. So they did do several pre-calls for those shows. But overall the actual shows themselves were primarily in English, if there was any speaking at all. Yeah, it turns out it turns out those songs are universal. You know, the journey is universal across all languages.
Doug (00:24:19) – Let’s talk about the sea days. As far as crowds and congestion, I know that you were up there in the yacht club for probably most of it, but as you made your way further south, you mentioned the snow on the sail out, but that it eventually warm up once you got around the Carolinas or Florida.
Guest (00:24:36) – Warmed up is relative. Uh, it was warmer than than the snow, but we there weren’t a lot of folks spending time out on deck or making use of of the water slides. Um, it was still pretty chilly until, honestly, the nicest day we had was in Nassau. And so it took us, uh, five days into the cruise before the weather was, was to a point where you would want to actually be out on deck or layout, you know, you could be out. I mean, we were like, jackets and jeans, uh, throughout the sailing. Uh, but but it wasn’t it didn’t get really warm until we got down into the Bahamas.
Doug (00:25:07) – As far as the crowds and congestion around the ship, was there any of that since everyone was inside?
Guest (00:25:16) – Really? Honestly, the only crowds we experienced were in the Meraviglia Galleria Meraviglia, which is a domed area. If you deck six and deck seven, it’s a two-story area. They’ve got a beautiful dome, similar to the Fremont Experience in Las Vegas, where they’ve got that led that runs almost the entirety of the ship. That’s where they would do many of their dance parties and events, because it was too cold up on deck to do it.
We didn’t feel that space was designed to host those parties. And so it’s a throughput for traffic on the ship. And so you’ve got people trying to make their way throughout the ship and people dancing and singing. And that was really the only time we felt like we were crowded, or that we were kind of annoyed a little bit by the traffic flow of the ship. Otherwise I would I would tell you, we didn’t feel crowds, even the buffet, the buffets, were sometimes a little bit busy, but but not to the point where we’ve seen it wear on other lines.
Guest (00:26:12) – What did you think of that promenade area with the ceiling that lights up?
Guest (00:26:15) – Beautiful. Uh, we were stunned by the design and how gorgeous that space was, and they really maximize the usage of those LED screens throughout the sailing, including on Embark day, when they’re showing you where all of the different muster stations are located. But overall, that space was beautiful.
It was definitely wide enough to walk through it when there wasn’t an event happening, you could easily take yourself up onto the next deck up and look down from the mezzanine and really enjoy the sights and the and sounds and even the smells coming from the chocolate factory. As you were sailing along, so it was very enjoyable.
Speaking of speaking of those multi-use screens, remember, even on the welcome back party, they played the Welcome Back video that that that MSC sizzle reel. They played the video thing. Welcome back. I appreciate your loyalty. They played that up on those screens. And so literally everyone at the Welcome Back party headed to the sky watching them talk about what a great experience MSC is.
Doug (00:27:11) – The casino. How was that as far as the smoking situation in and around it?
Guest (00:27:17) – They had a smoke-free casino. It appears that it was an afterthought based on our conversations with the other passengers on board. The smoke-free casino was nice. However, they didn’t have any gaming tables for the smoke-free gamblers.
Now, the exciting thing was the placement of the Cirque theater. You have to walk through the smoking casino to get to the theater, which was kind of a strange setup, but the way the casino was set up. They put the main bar in the center of it. So you’re not diving into the main casino itself. Overall, the casino seemed like a pretty ample size, comparable to what we’re familiar with on some of Carnival’s Vista ships.
Doug (00:27:59) – Okay. Very cool. So, let’s talk about the ports of call you hit on this nine-night cruise. And what we’ll do here is hit the first one, give us a highlight, then we’ll go to the next one and so on.
Guest (00:28:10) – The first cruise port we visited was the exotic location, Port Canaveral in Florida. We had something else arranged. We have some really good friends that we’ve also met through going on cruises who live in the Orlando area, they ended up picking us up, and we had a fun day at SeaWorld for the day. So, it’s definitely a little bit different. We didn’t book anything through MSC because we’ve been to Port Canaveral before, so we wanted to check it out through the locals.
Doug (00:29:01) – So what was after Port Canaveral?
Guest (00:29:04) – Next was Miami and the day was unexpected. Icon of the Seas was scheduled to arrive in Miami the day before.
However, due to the weather, they kept her out for an extra day. And so we literally got to see icon of the seas sail. And we did a live, uh, we did a YouTube live where we streamed her sailing into Port Miami for the first time. We watched her turn around in the basin, return, and dock at the Royal Caribbean Terminal. There.
We got off the ship, and we hiked our excursion that day. We hiked about a mile up to the Royal Caribbean Terminal, climbed up to the very top of the parking garage, Royal Caribbean parking garage, and we just took pictures and filmed a bunch of stuff up there because it was like such a wow moment for for a couple of cruise nerds.
Doug (00:29:53) – Yeah. No, definitely. So after Nassau, you headed over to the Bahamas. Uh, what was the first Bahamas port?
Guest (00:29:59) – We first stopped at MSC’s Private Island, MSC’s Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. It’s a beautiful private island destination.
You can tell that MSC put a lot of thought and consideration when they were designing this port. It’s huge. It is massive, huge. And it’s nice because the ship can dock directly onto the port there, instead of you having to do a water shuttle taxi service to get in.
It is a very large and sprawling island, with tons of places for people to go out and lounge and layout, grab food, and have a nice relaxing day. Now. Now they don’t have, you know, big water parks and they don’t have hot air balloons that go up in the air like some, you know, private islands do. But but I mean, it had everything that you could want.
Guest (00:30:48) – It had many different beaches. Uh, to Rocky Point food trucks, uh, included food trucks throughout the island, as well as some upcharge food trucks where you could get, you know, seafood, you could get your lobster rolls and some of that fresh seafood.
Doug (00:31:00) – You were in the yacht club, right? So I know they have that yacht club area on the other side of the island, like on the other side from where the ship docks. How was that space, or I guess, did you utilize that space? And would you think of it if you did?
Guest (00:31:12) – Yeah, we actually, uh, as soon as we got off of the ship via escort from our butler. It’s just fun to say that. I’m sorry. Uh, we were escorted over to the yacht club’s meeting point, where they picked us up by golf cart and drove us to that exclusive area. It just made it a little bit easier to get there so we can maximize our time. Uh, the area is referred to as the Ocean House.
And so that’s actually where they serve lunch. And it’s a lovely, large colonial-style building. Uh, the lunch there included amazing bites from a lobster roll to crab ceviche. The ceviche was so good. The beach was delicious. Uh, they also had your standard fare of burgers on the menu, and then a couple of salads and other options.
Overall, it was a great area. As you approached it, there was signage, so you knew it was reserved for the yacht club guests. Uh, there was a private beach. And that’s the one downside that I would say about the exclusive area is the Yacht Club’s Ocean House. The beach is probably the least nice of the beaches that are found on the island.
It’s a little bit rough. Uh, there’s some larger sand bits, if you want to call them that. Uh, so getting in the water makes it a bit tough. And due to the weather that we encountered, we really didn’t even touch the water because we touched the water.
We just didn’t get into the water. It’s it’s rocky, says sand. But I would say sharp rock. So the folks that had been there before had water shoes and were in the water. That was a that’s a great tip. If you’re going to Ocean Cay and in the yacht club, make sure to bring water shoes because. It will make your day better.
Doug: .That’s a good tip. There are a lot of beaches around the island so you get to explore most of them?
We did. We met people on the cruise, as we always do on cruises. And so we went out and we got to explore a little bit with them. In hindsight, I wish we had done the exploration first because it started to pour. Uh, it started to downpour and it was a cold downpour in the Bahamas. And so we we didn’t get to explore as much as we’d like, but we got to see several of the lagoons.
Guest (00:33:15) – We got to see the lighthouse. We got to enjoy one of the food trucks. We did eat at one of the food trucks just so we could say we, you know, ate with our friends. Um, Rocky. Rocky always says we ate with the common people. Um, and so we enjoyed the food on the mainland. And then there’s shops, there’s shops, there’s you can buy ice cream cones and various things on land as well. Before we headed back to the ship. And, and unfortunately, that was the only we were this point spoiled us, Doug. Um, we were looking for our butler escort back onto the ship, but but there was not one on to the ship. And so we had to wait in the rain with the rest of the ship that had all run back to get onto the ship as well.
Doug (00:33:55) – Oh, no. Horrible. Did you get to stay at night to see the lighthouse lit up? Yeah.
Guest (00:34:01) – Back on board wasn’t scheduled until 8:00 that evening. Uh, most of the passengers had embarked on the ship by about 330 or 4 due to the weather, but we stayed docked there, and we were wondering about that lighthouse show because we’d heard about it. And so we went to the concierge, who gave us a great recommendation on where to go to view it, so we could also hear the music playing through the show.
Uh, and so we had the opportunity to watch it and it was impressive. We enjoyed it. And hopefully, we’ll be able to return to Ocean Cay again in the future, where we won’t encounter poor weather. We can be on the beach and see the light show from the ground.
And because of the concierge tip, we know the crew smoking area on MSC Meraviglia. And so it was a great tip and we got to hang out with crew as they watched the light show.
Doug (00:34:54) – He probably know this, but if you’re ever feeling energetic or you want to work out, you can climb that lighthouse. It’s like $15 or 20 maybe, but you got some great views up there and there’s quite a few steps, so, uh, yeah, pack your energy. Yeah.
Guest (00:35:06) – No. And that’s another reason why we want to go back. You know, I don’t think, uh, the weather was really in our favor to be able to do that type of an excursion, but definitely in the books for us to do it again.
Doug (00:35:16) – So your final port of call was Nassau. How was your day there?
Guest (00:35:19) – Nassau was great. Uh, as Mark had mentioned, it was the best weather that we saw on the entire cruise, and we were a little bummed that it was our final port day, but we made the most of it. We were docked in Nassau with four other ships. So a standard busy Nassau day. Uh, nothing unusual there.
Guest (00:35:36) – Uh, we have a tradition whenever we’re in Nassau, where we go visit a rum distillery in a little bit deeper into town. And so we decided to do that at this time. We took the trek and walked around and checked out the updates that they made to the port of Nassau, because that was our first time there since they did all the construction since they finished the construction.
Yeah, we’ve been several times during. Yeah. And then from there we walked up to the distillery and enjoyed a little tasting up there before returning to the port and getting on the ship. It was a pretty quiet day, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity to get to lay out on deck on the cruise ship before sail away took place.
Doug (00:36:12) – Yeah, perfect day for it. So you leave Nassau for a couple of days and you head back to Brooklyn. How were your sea days going up?
Guest (00:36:19) – The weather, I will say, was more cooperative on the way back, but. So it wasn’t as bumpy and rocky, but there were times when you would sleep at night and roll on or you would.
Guest (00:36:31) – You knew you were on a ship. You know, when Rocky and I first boarded, one of the things we commented as we were sitting in, I think it was the topsail restaurant. After spending time in the lounge, we said, we don’t feel like we’re on a cruise ship, but you just felt like you were almost at an all-inclusive resort.
We knew we were on a cruise ship on the sea days out and on the sea days back. The weather was left, the ocean a bit rocky. We had some. You saw some gale-force winds. There were some swells, but they had the magnetic, uh, bags out, the thick bags out in the elevator banks. They had those out for, for all of the passengers. We did talk to several folks who said they might not sail again in January, but but we liked it. But I know the sign us up.
Doug (00:37:18) – So it’s time to get off the ship in Brooklyn.
Doug (00:37:20) – Was the process as smooth and bougie as that embark?
Guest (00:37:25) – I love that you say the bougie because it continued through. Uh, we always go for a very relaxed, dark morning. We try to stay on the ship as long as possible.
We book later flights knowing that there’s always the possibility that a ship could be delayed returning to port. Uh, and fortunately for us, the ship did arrive on time, however. We didn’t end up disembarking from the ship until much later.
We we decided to go down and have breakfast down in the main restaurant, the topsail restaurant, in the yacht club area. And once we were done eating there, we went down to the lounge and enjoyed a quick beverage and a couple of little canapés. You know, just trying to get our last bits in and chatted with the bartenders.
The bartenders were tremendously friendly the entire sailing, and we just hung out with them and enjoyed some coffee and drinks. Yep. And then once we were ready to get off of the ship, we went to the concierge and actually, we ended up seeing our butler at the concierge desk, and he offered to help us get off the ship.
Guest (00:38:26) – And so he took Marc’s two suitcases that he was carrying from his hands and wheeled them to the elevator, took us down to the lower deck, and wheeled us over to where they take you off the ship. Or they scan your card to say you are officially disembarked from the ship. So we continued that experience as long as we could.
And the cool thing about the luggage program, if you decide to put your luggage out the night before the cruise ends, all of the yacht club luggage gets delivered to one specific spot, so you’re not rushing to get off.
You’re not rushing to go find where your luggage was placed. When it’s in that terminal building, it’s very easy to locate and get to pick up your suitcases and you’re on your way. Once again, those yacht club signs. Right this way. Um, a dedicated area, even for your luggage.
Doug (00:39:16) – Awesome. Very cool. Does Brooklyn have facial recognition for the dark?
Guest (00:39:21) – Yes they did. We were very excited when we saw that we’re getting off the ship.
Doug (00:39:25) – Yeah. It sure makes a difference. Looking back here as first-time MSC cruisers and in the yacht Club, do you have any first-time tips to offer anyone sailing MSC or sailing out of Manhattan?
Guest (00:39:39) – Uh, goodness gracious. If you get that upgrade offer and it’s within your means, you bid that upgrade offer up. Suppose you can get into the yacht club from a balcony. That would be my biggest tip because not only does it include all of those amenities that we’ve talked about. They grant you into the premium drinks package as well.
So the premium drinks package on this sailing would have been 790 a person, a person. We paid less for the entire yacht club experience, including those premium drinks. It included Wi-Fi on each of our devices, and it included all of those exclusive amenities that we’ve talked about.
And so that would be my number one tip is if you get that offer to upgrade to the yacht club, really look at what it would cost you to have that experience and just individually and take that for serious take.
Guest (00:40:29) – Be serious about that. And if you can get that upgrade and it’s in your means, do it. Yeah, absolutely. And then I would also say the other thing is that this cruise ship departs out of the Brooklyn terminal.
So instead of paying the 60 plus dollars that it would cost to get an Uber or a lift, you could take the subway, and the train system, all of which will be super easy to get over there. And there’s a water taxi or ferry. Ferry, I guess it is, uh, that takes you from Wall Street.
If you were to go into Manhattan and stay the night out there, you can quickly get onto the ferry from Wall Street over to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Easy. And it’s quite cost-effective.
Doug (00:41:09) – Yeah, that’s one thing I’ve heard over the years is that a lot of people who are doing cruises out of either Brooklyn or Manhattan, they kind of get taken by surprise how much it actually cost to get from the airport to the cruise port.
Doug (00:41:20) – But a little extra research can save you quite a few bucks, and it’s not that bad. I think it’s.
Guest (00:41:25) – Scarier being in New York traffic. Quite honestly. When we the Uber, we took an Uber from the hotel to the cruise terminal. I think that was scarier than the subway was, you know, the night before when we had flown in. And so, yes, I think it’s great.
Doug (00:41:41) – Well, looking back, what was your biggest highlight of this cruise?
Guest (00:41:56) – I would say the biggest highlight was probably being in the yacht club. What a treat it was for us to be able to experience that. Um, it was so exciting walking into the Topsail Lounge in that exclusive yacht Club area, no matter how many times a day we walked in there, we always discovered new canopies that were waiting for us to try.
Guest (00:42:17) – The bartenders and servers in the topsail lounge were all very friendly. They started to get to know us, what drinks we enjoyed the most, and they would start making recommendations based on the spirits we were drinking to make our journey that much more enjoyable. I think for me, um, one of the best bites of food I’ve had on a cruise ship was, uh, in the Eden restaurant onboard Celebrity Apex.
And I would say fast forward. That was a couple of years back now for Thanksgiving. But fast forward to this. To have that daily rotating risotto to me was a surprise and delight that menu in Topsail restaurant. You just don’t see food like that on a cruise ship. And it was fantastic.
And it was included in that experience. It wasn’t we weren’t, you know, dropping 150 for the meal. It was included in that yacht club experience. That, to me was a surprise and delight.
Guest (00:43:10) – I did not expect how good and high-quality that food would be.
Doug (00:43:22) – Well, uh, in closing here, your final thoughts of MSC Maravilla.
Guest (00:43:27) – the MSC Meraviglia is a gorgeous ship. MSC did a great job in designing and developing this class of ship. The size of it was great. We did have a lower capacity on the ship during our sailing, but we still managed to have a great time. We met a lot of great friends.
We found places to call our own that maybe we’re not in the yacht club specifically. Still, we discovered the Sky lounge as a great place to meet people and to be able to enjoy the company of others that were not a part of the yacht club, and really just kind of put ourselves with the rest of the population that was sailing. Very good. The Champagne Bar was another one of my favorites. That the Edge bar.
Guest (00:44:09) – The champagne bar, you know, that looked out over the water as the ship was sailing. That was great. Those champagne cocktails were excellent. And that’s the beauty, right? When you have. We would flash our yacht club bracelets and I will tell you, I joke. I’ve made this joke now lines would disappear and people would just randomly appear.
Servers would appear, you flash that yacht club bracelet and it didn’t matter what bar we were at, if we were at the horizon bar, after the champagne bar, or at the Sky lounge, they just showed up and took such great care of us. You can tell that even the rest of the ship is trained to pay attention to yacht club guests, because it was just such a fantastic experience.
I’m excited to go back on MSC Meraviglia in in the in the standard amenities in the non-yacht club amenities to be able to experience it truly and compare and contrast to be able to talk about what does that value look like and how it feels to sit down in the main dining room each night for dinner versus in your dedicated restaurant? And so I am excited to get back on the ship.
Guest (00:45:10) – We’ve looked we’ve booked on the inaugural on MSC World America, World America. And so it was it was a great experience and great sailing. And so MSC gets a lot of bad rap out there. There’s a lot of negativity about people who love or hate it. And I will tell you from our experience where we’re looking at booking two more already. So it was it was in it was in a really good category for us.
Doug (00:46:34) – Awesome. We’ll link to it also in the show notes at Cruise Radio dot net. Mark Rocky, thank you all so much.
Guest (00:46:40) – Thank you so much, Doug.