We recently sailed on the MSC Seashore Cruise Ship at Port Canaveral and completed a review and tour of the ship. Was it as bad as everyone says? Sadly, yes, it was. As it stands, MSC Seashore makes even the oldest Carnival ship look like a luxury cruise line. See for yourself in our video review on our YouTube channel here:
We read the MSC Seashore reviews and watched the MSC Seashore ship YouTube videos before we booked the inaugural Port Canaveral sailing of Seashore. In Europe, this ship was a well-oiled machine with rave reviews for everything from food to spectacular shows. You have to imagine our surprise as we experienced just the opposite – a train wreck of a cruise with slow, inattentive service and a comedy of mistakes.
To be fair, we have sailed on inaugural cruises on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival, and things typically take a while to synergize to provide the level of service most cruise customers expect. Stories we heard from MSC Seashore’s onboard management indicated 70% of the staff was new to this ship, and a large contingency of workers had visa trouble and were unable to report to work for this cruise. This was also the young Italian cruise director’s first sailing as a cruise director, so communication was lacking if not completely absent. Nonetheless, MSC has been running cruise operations for decades, and there is no excuse for not having proper contingency plans in place. One well-placed consultant may have resolved many of these challenges with a few simple tested and proven changes. We offered.
We have decided to itemize many of the failures we saw during our MSC Seashore cruise review for two reasons. One, our first four MSC sailings were wonderful. We know they can do better. And two, after this terrible experience, we needed something cathartic.
MSC Seashore Failure #1: Embarking
We realize MSC contracts Port Canaveral to handle parking and baggage. Still, someone should have boots on the ground to ensure proper methods and signage has been provided. There were zero signs for baggage drop off. Normally, in Port 10, even if you’ve missed the bag drop off loop, you can drop your bags near a crosswalk, where porters would tag and collect your bags. However, half the parking lot was under construction, and there was no area for bag drops. This forced most people who drove to the port and paid over $90 to park to struggle to carry their bags down the two small and slow elevators.
MSC issues boarding times with their extensive packet of over 24 sheets they tell you that you must print and carry to the port in order to board. One of the pages they stress is very important is a health questionnaire that hasn’t been relevant since 2021. No one checks any of the paperwork, and no one looks at any boarding times. This causes ridiculously long lines from 11AM through 1PM. MSC should plant trees on their private nature reserve island to replace all the plant life they’ve needlessly decimated over the past two years.
MSC Seashore Failure #2: Communication
Every cruise line contracts thousands of people from several Asian and Central and South American nations to work for wages most Americans would find offensive. This inherently causes language barriers between American consumers and ship staff. This barrier can always be smoothed over with one well-placed fluent English leader giving the guests direction.
MSC Seashore made a foolish mistake. And especially foolish at the world’s busiest cruise port. They enlisted the services of a heavily accented Italian boy called Andre who apparently had zero experience with American customers and appointed him to cruise director. Cruise directors are the front line between ship management and guests, so it’s critical they have the knowledge, experience, and confidence to lead guests to a safe and fulfilling cruise experience. This cruise director had no presence and was difficult to understand. There was no onboard announcement about the Ocean Cay light show in the evening.
More importantly, he also failed to guide guests while disembarking the ship. More on that later.
Specialty dining was also a mess. While the app and daily programs stated reservations were necessary, a mixture of concierge desk and guest services employees erroneously told people reservations were not required. When those folks showed up, they were obviously upset to find there was often a long list of reservations.
There are also several errors on the printed communications delivered to rooms.
And MSC’s billing system is very confusing and probably generates at least half of all visits to guest services.
MSC Seashore Failure #3: Food and Beverage
When selling in America, isn’t it better to do as Americans do? American diners enjoy flavor. Sugar, salt, tart, spicy. Cost cutting in the spice arena is culinary suicide! Our European friends, especially in the Mediterranean, tell us their food is different from American dishes, yet always rich in flavor. Serving bland chicken, prime rib, or filet mignon without salt is ridiculous. Salt isn’t just flavor, it’s also a natural tenderizer. When guests are complaining about still chewing their steaks two days later, maybe it’s time to make some changes in the kitchen.
And let’s talk about being “Italian.” Why is there no Italian themed restaurant on 23 of the 25 MSC ships, and especially on most American sailings? Even Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean have Italian themed restaurants on most of their ships, and they’re not considered “Italian.” Italian-Americans have completely destroyed Italian traditions by bastardizing Italian dishes. When Americans think of Italian food, they think of a wide variety of pasta and rich tomato or creamy Alfredo sauces. Spaghetti is always a children’s favorite. Plus, aren’t Parmesan and Romano cheeses Italian? At our first lunch, we were excited to find penne pasta in a red sauce. But there was no grated Parmesan or Romano cheese available.
What’s ironic is the pizza recipe has been consistently perfect on the four MSC ships we’ve sailed on. The dough is always light and airy, the sauce is flavorful, the cheese is perfect. I’d hire the pizza people to run the entire kitchen.
There are free juices and water available in the Marketplace Buffet area. Sadly, ice tea and lemonade are not among the choices. There is a strange concoction called “Ace” (pronounced ‘ah-chay’) that is way too sweet, particularly nasty, and should be dumped in the ocean. Scratch that – even fish would not drink it.
MSC Seashore Failure #4: Slow Service and Shortages
Let’s begin with the bar. It takes about five seconds to serve a bottle of beer. It takes about four minutes to brew a cup of coffee.
Yes, MSC’s Cafe Americano is excellent. But brewing each cup using an espresso machine behind a liquor bar is insanely time consuming. And brewing specialty coffees at a bar where other guests are waiting for much more simple pours is extremely annoying. Separate coffee stations from the bars and establish separate lines. In America, coffee people have been trained by Starbucks to wait.
People dining in the main dining room and even the Yacht Club restaurant complained about waiting an hour for their meals to be delivered, and then arriving cold. Not a great way to establish a positive reputation. The most comical experience of our cruise was when our Yacht Club waiter took our food order. We asked for drinks, but apparently a different staff member was responsible for that function. Our food arrived before the drinks. Our waiter told us, verbatim, “Well, I did my job.” Staff up, train well, and figure it out. Apologize when necessary.
Apparently, the entire Sports Bar kitchen staff had some sort of visa problems, so it was closed during this cruise. That was disappointing because their wings and nachos are some of the best food on the ship.
The Marketplace buffet had shortages of silverware and napkins. And the pizza makers couldn’t seem to keep up with the crowd.
Ginger ale supplies were low. Taco Cantina didn’t have enchiladas. Shrimp cocktail was missing in the dining room. There was a huge advertisement on an endcap for Pringles in the store, but zero Pringles on the shelves. And two bars on Ocean Cay had no Coca Cola or water on until later in the afternoon.
And Tim is still 0 for 5 on Ocean Cay. He has never been able to get a $9 vanilla ice cream in a Smiling Fish cone.
MSC Seashore Failure #5: Disembarkation Nightmare
No, United States Customs is not responsible for a two hour wait to leave the ship. Customs cleared the ship long before most people were able to leave. MSC’s procedure is the problem. On most cruise ships, your cruise director is responsible for communicating the disembarkation procedure, and directing traffic during so. On Seashore, we suspect Andre was having a morning cocktail with his extensive Italian entourage while thousands of passengers were confused and angry.
MSC needs to completely scrap their current policy and introduce something that’s much less chaotic. Parading Yacht Club members alongside of the rest of the guests is also not a great idea and adds to the frustration.
MSC Seashore Failure #6: Room Comforts
Many guests were complaining there was no top sheet on their bed. That’s the sheet between you and the sometimes unwashed comforter. We could not get verification on this, but the amount of complaints in the Facebook group appears to confirm this was true. Apparently there was a shortage of either top sheets or laundry staff.
A few people complained the toilet paper was kind of rough. Confirmed. Even in Yacht Club. We would think a “European” cruise line might have bidets, but none were located.
Our pre-cruise email promising us a choice of pillows and a printout of a daily newspaper of our choosing was ignored. This is the second cruise we filled out the request, and the second time it was missed.
As an experiment, we emptied the mini-fridge in our room. Supposedly, Yacht Club features unlimited beverages and refills in the mini-fridge. It was never replenished.
MSC Seashore: Any GOOD News?
Well, Yacht Club was definitely a better experience. Here’s that video.