Is MSC Cruise Line as Bad As Some Say? Our Review of the MSC Seashore from January 2024

Just How Bad is MSC Cruise Lines Really? 

If you look at reviews online, in videos, you would think that MSC cruises would be out of business by now. I have read and watched a bunch and had mixed thoughts when we booked this seven day Western Caribbean cruise a couple months ago, but we really wanted to experience this line for myself to how they stacked up to others we have cruised before such as Carnival, NCL, and Royal. We all went in with open minds, but were sure to look for hints of the negatives we heard about. I will break it down into several categories below and detail our thoughts:

The Ship – MSC Seashore

We actually liked the layout of this ship and found it to be very similar to the Carnival Vista and Horizon ships. Like those ships, this had the so called “Smart Elevators” that make you choose the floor you want before entering as we found challenging as they seemed to take much longer to arrive. We really liked our Aurea Premium Suite with Whirlpool on the deck, and liked the fact that his ship had a ton of balcony cabins on it. It also had a couple of good sized pool areas for all, a pretty awesome adults only “infinity pool” on deck eight on the aft of the ship, plenty of seating inside and out, and decent bars, entertainment venues, and restaurants. We never really felt crowded even though there were over five thousand people on the ship. The decor was “New York City” themed and everything was bright, clean, and well kept. We really enjoyed the thermal spa area that was one of the larger ones we have seen on a cruise ship that included saunas, steam rooms, showers, a salt room, mineral hot tub, heated chairs, and even a snow room! It had a good sized area for kids with lots of outdoor and indoor things for them to do, but it did lack anything large like a rollercoaster, bumper cars, or flow-riders. It did offer a huge arcade with lots of high end games including VR stuff, and a 3d type adventure theater, all of which were additional costs. Activities that were included in the fare were water slides, ropes course, water play area, ping pong, foosball, billiards, and other games. In our view there would be plenty of thing for kids to do on this ship for sure. The Casino was decent and smoke free, but they did have a separate room with slot machines that was for gamblers who smoked. It had a good amount of shops that included duty free items like liquor, jewelry, watches, etc, that were all on the high end, but it also had a specialty candy/chocolate store/bar called “Venchi” that was rather neat. One of the major differences of this ship compared to Carnival, etc, to us was that ALL of the included food was only in the either the Market Place buffet or the main dining rooms, but I will go into more detail on that when I get into the food. So, as far as the overall thoughts on the ships layout, design, decor, and character, we all enjoyed it very much.


The Food – Included and Specialty Dining

One of the points I have heard often in bad reviews of on MSC is the food. So we were really expecting to have some issues here and we were very detailed in our judgment in this area. Although we did find a few issues that we did not like, overall I think MSC gets a bad rap in this area. Like I mentioned above, one noticeable difference from other cruise lines on MSC is that all included dining is either located in the buffet or in the main dining rooms. They did not have things like Guy’s Burgers, or Blue Iguana Tacos, or even a sandwich deli place. They did have all of that stuff, but it was all located on the buffet itself, including the late night pizza and soft serve ice cream. They did have five specialty dining options (Steak House, Seafood, Sushi, Teppanyaki, Mexican), and they offered these either at a’la cart pricing or as part of several different packages you could buy. We opted to purchase a 3 dinner package before we cruised for $100 for each of us, which totaled to $34 per meal per person. I will breakdown all the places we ate below:

Main Dining Room – We had dinner here 3 nights out of 7. Since we were “Aurea” level we were assigned the “Manhattan” dining room that was is “anytime” dining between 5:30pm and 9:30pm. The Fantasitca and Bella guests are in three other dining rooms called “5th Avenue”, “Central Park”, and “Tribeca” which are all assigned a certain dining time. All of these had the same menus and options. I can say we never had a bad meal here. All of the food we had was hot, tasty, and fresh. We ate here on “Gala” night and had lobster and it was fantastic. The only negative I can say about this place is that it was always at least 1 1/2 hours to get through the meal. service was kind of slow so trying to get to show that started at 7:30pm could be hard to do if you were seated at 6pm. One of the biggest things that my wife did not like was the lack of ice in the water glasses. The main dining room that was open for breakfast and lunch was the larger”Central Park” one and you pretty much just walked up and were seated. We had no issues the couple times we ate here either.

The Market Place Buffet – We only ate here a few times, but enough to tell the food was on par with every other cruise we have been on, maybe even better than some. Everything we had was fresh, hot if it was supposed to be, and cooked well. Pizza was awesome, the pastas were great, and they had plenty of variety. Lots of fresh fruit, veggies, breads, meats, cheeses, and great breakfast options. There was always plenty of seating, they had water, iced tea, and juices. There was also white and chocolate milk available during breakfast hours. There was also a Kid’s Section on the buffet that had things most children like. The full buffet was only open during meal times, but sections were open all throughout the day for snacks. Pizza was available until 1am from what I hear. There were always burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and other types of food available and the buffet took up a good amount of deck 16.

Speciality Dining – As I said earlier, we got the 3 speciality dining package so we could try out some of them. We were really looking forward to the seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay that was named after their private island in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, this was our LEAST favorite out of the all four that we tried. The main entree’s we had were fine, but our main complaint on this one was they did not have the lump crab cakes or oysters we were looking forward to. Also, the meal was very slow and took over TWO hours to get us out the door. Our favorite was the Butchers Cut steak house with excellent breads, appetizers, entree’s, and desserts. Hola Taco’s was our second favorite as it was all you can eat of many great different type of Mexican foods. We also opted to do the “All you can eat” sushi special for $39 for lunch one day that was a unique “conveyor belt” type setup were you could grad what you wanted that slowly passes by you. All in all, we would highly recommend the Butchers Cut and Hola Taco’s, but we could live without the others. We did hear from others on the ship and others reviews that the Teppanyaki Restaurant was also one of the better of the speciality options.

Private Island Food – The food we had on Ocean Cay was on par with other private islands we had been on. We did however love the lobster rolls that were sold at extra cost at one of the food trucks called the Seafood Shack. All in all we felt the food was on par with any other cruise line we have been on and some of it was better.


Overall we were happy with the entertainment offered at all venues. The song and dance shows in the main theater were probably our favorites as the dancers and singers were all very talented. The couple at the dueling piano area near the shops were OK at best. They had a mix of other singers that were all pretty good to watch while having a drink. My wife though, really missed having a comedy show on board. She really likes Carnival due to their Punchliner Comedy clubs. I would not rate any of the performances ground breaking or awesome, but they were just fine for a budget cruise.


I would rate the overall service we had on the ship as a 4 out of 5. Any issues we had were taken care of right away. We had twice a day room turnover service, which was awesome. Wait staff was good and tentative even during the issues at Ocean Cay Restaurant which were more the kitchens fault. Bags arrived on time, we were able to embark and disembark rather quickly, there were always cleaning staff around making sure the public areas and restrooms were clean.

Stateroom and Perks

Our Stateroom – We had originally booked a standard “Fantasitica” balcony cabin that came with a few included things of the basic “Bella” class cabins. But MSC has a rather different “upgrade” program than we have had in the past where they will offer you to bid on a cabin upgrade of your choice a few weeks after you book. When we got our email to upgrade we chose to just upgrade to the next level of “Aurea” which gave us a few more perks like access to the thermal spa, anytime dining, and a couple other things for $300 total. A couple of weeks before cruise time we got an email declining our offer, BUT they counter-offered to give a a larger suite with a whirlpool on the deck in the Aurea class for only $450 total, so we jumped on it! We are glad we did! Our cabin was huge! It had all the space and storage we needed plus some. It had a walk-in closet that also was a changing room. And a whirlpool on the deck! We were super happy with the cabin and the upgrade process for sure!

Loyalty Status Match –  Another thing that MSC cruise lines does is allow you to “Status Match” your loyalty you may have with another cruise line or any other travel related company to the level of MSC’s program! Since we were Platinum on Carnival Cruise line we were able to upgrade to MSC’s “Gold” level which is the comparable status! This gave us a few more perks that we would not have gotten without that match! I highly recommend if you are booking a MSC cruise and have any other travel related loyalty with cruise, hotel, or air companies, do it!


We all enjoyed this cruise and this line and have no problems recommending this option to friends, family, and clients. I think MSC has something to offer cruises of AA budget levels as long as you understand how they operate going in. I know there are better cruise lines, and in my opinion, there are worse ones well, But we had a great time and think you will too on an MSC Cruise!

Give us a call, email or text if you would like for us to help plan your MSC adventure!