This is the third installment of the day-by-day, blow-by-blow review of our September 14-21, 2019 cruise on the MSC Seaside. If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the “long form,” there is an intro/overview that hits the highlights HERE.
Monday, September 16th
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down — but a misty Monday morning at sea, now that’s a whole different thing. There are few things as calming as being in the middle of the ocean, with nothing but water surrounding you, knowing you’ve left all your worries and pressures and obligations back on land and, at least temporarily, you can relax and just take in the beauty and majesty of this world from a whole different perspective.
I don’t use the balcony much on a cruise, but I do love to open up that door and step outside first thing in the morning and watch the waves go by. It reminds me of why our earth is called the “blue planet.”
Breakfast at the Buffet
After our elegant evening celebrations, we slept late and so we got up to the Yacht Club Grill just as they were shutting it down. Oops. We stopped in at the Top Sail lounge for coffee, and then headed down to the deck 8 buffet to grab some breakfast.
It doesn’t have the ambiance of breakfast at the YC grill, but the selection was bigger and the food was actually quite good. And I just had to rub it in to my Carnival friends that MSC has real butter in foil packets (“Buttergate” has been an ongoing issue with Carnival for the past year or so).
Making the Most of Monday
This day was a half sea/half port day, as we were scheduled to arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 5:00 p.m. and stay until 1:00 a.m. Many people don’t like that aspect of this itinerary because some of the famous landmarks, such as the forts, are closed in the evening. If I hadn’t already seen them a few times, I might feel the same way.
As it is, though, I enjoy the night life in Old San Juan and have never felt unsafe walking around near the port at night, even when I’m by myself. We planned to go out and explore a little on our own before the scheduled Yacht Club deck party that evening.
Meanwhile, it was a lovely, lazy morning and a perfect opportunity to have another cup of coffee in the lounge and catch up on Facebook. By the time I finished with that, it was time for a snack and the first drink of the day – a BBC, of course. I first discovered Bailey’s Banana Coladas on my very first cruise, on Carnival Magic, years ago. It is still my “go to” cruise ship drink.
The combination of Irish cream and banana liqueur and/or banana rum, depending on the bartender (here’s a recipe) is delicious, and of course when you’re in the Yacht Club there’s no cost — at least not a monetary one. Yummy sweet frozen drinks are pricey in terms of calories, though, so afterwards we took a long walk around the ship to rack up some steps and work off a little of the potential weight gain. Of course I seized the opportunity to take a few more photos.
In the atrium, they were holding an “ask the officers” session, which is nice for newbies. It was also crowded, so we just watched from the open deck above.
They were handing out flyers with information about the ship, and answering questions. But although it’s titled “Captain’s Corner” in the Daily Planner, Capt. Di Palma wasn’t there when we went by. He most likely had other things to do — such as commanding the ship.
After our walk, we gravitated back to the Top Sail lounge (it draws me like a magnet) to check out the restaurant lunch menu before it was too late.
It looked more than okay, but Tom was now (like me) deeply in love with the Deck 19 grill, and since there was nothing that compelling on the restaurant menu, we trekked up the stairs to check out the day’s fare up there.
As usual, it all looked and smelled wonderful.
We weren’t super hungry, but I had to try out the pasta, and Tom made himself a small plate. We noshed on that and enjoyed the sea breezes for a while.
Of course, more calories demanded more walking, so we did another round, this time mostly outdoors, and then went back to the cabin to chill for a bit. We played with the TV and checked out the available content. Here are some photos of what you can tune in.
As you can see, there are a few channels, such as CNN and Cartoon Network (is that redundant? LOL), and you can access your personal agenda, billing information, make reservations for shows, see the ship’s location on the map, and more.
An aside: How to connect your computer or phone to the TV
We don’t really watch TV on a cruise, other than maybe occasionally hooking up one of the computers to the TV to watch a movie or TV episode we downloaded beforehand. To connect your computer or phone to the TV as mentioned above, you’ll need a cable with a connector on one end that fits your device’s display output (mini USB or USB-C for Android phones, mini Displayport for my Surface Pro) and a full size HDMI connector on the other for plugging into the television.
The TVs in the YC1 rooms on Seaside present a challenge because they’re mounted so close to the wall and don’t swivel or pull out. You need a small hand (luckily I have two of those) and a lot of patience because you’ll have to find the HDMI port entirely by touch. Then you need to reboot the TV and you’ll get this screen:
Once you get it connected, it works fine, and I just leave the cable plugged into the TV for the duration of the cruise and unplug it from my computer when I want to take it to the lounge with me.
Honestly, though, we always find way too much to do on the ship and don’t really have much time for watching — after all, we can do that at home.
Port One: Puerto Rico
We got into port a little before 5:00 pm and we went to the Top Sail to meet our butler so he could escort us past all the lines off the ship. We had a beautiful view of the city from the lounge.
Normally we have dinner at 6:00 but we’d made reservations for 7:30 at the specialty restaurant for the first of our “Roy’s Asian Trio,” giving us time to go out walk around in Old San Juan before coming back to the ship to eat.
We walked up the waterfront and then up the hill to Fortaleza Street, which had always been adorned with colorful umbrellas on all my previous visits, before they were torn down during the protests in the city that had taken place a couple of months before. It was sad to see the street without them.
We checked out the merchandise in some of the little shops along the way and Tom bought some cigars. We enjoyed just walking around, listening to the street music, and people-watching until it was time to go back to the ship to get ready for dinner.
Back on board, we got cleaned up and changed clothes and headed on over to the specialty restaurant area, which is across from the entry to the Yacht Club on our deck. This was my fourth time to do Teppanyaki on Seaside (I loved it so much the first time that I did it again on that same cruise). I was hoping this time would be the same and I wasn’t disappointed.
The teppanyaki dinner is about more than just the food; the chefs put on a show as they prepare your meal in front of you at the big hibachi tables. Previous times, there have been as many as twelve people at the table but this time – probably because it was a port night – it was just us and one other couple. That didn’t keep our chef from putting on a stellar performance.
The meal begins with sushi, salad, and miso soup – a three course appetizer before you even get to the two main courses. From the first time at Roy’s, I have thought and still think that the sashimi on this ship is some of the best I’ve ever had, anywhere (including at much higher prices).
This three-part first course is the same for everyone, regardless of your choice of the three options – Katana, Sencho, Shogun, or the Vegetarian dinner. It’s really an excellent value for the money, considering the usual prices of good Japanese food on land.
I got the Katana as I always do (Mahi Mahi and chicken entree). Tom went all out and got the most expensive Shogun (Wagyu and lobster). The other couple both stayed in the middle of the road with the Sencho selection. It was, as always, very good.
It’s served with yummy fried rice – second helpings all around – and then everyone gets the same dessert, glazed pineapple chunks with ice cream on top, which is quite good. Of course, by the time you get that far, you’re going to be feeling so stuffed that you might not be able to fully appreciate it.
This time, though, that wasn’t the end of it. The next day was my birthday, and to my utter surprise, as we thought it was all over and time to leave, a couple of the restaurant staff came parading in carrying a huge birthday cake, and they all sang happy birthday to me. The cake was beautiful but I really was at the point where I couldn’t eat another bite – so they sent it “home” to my cabin with me.
I hadn’t expected my birthday to begin so early, and I was really touched by this sweet gesture.
Oh, but there’s more. This was also the night of the Yacht Club pool deck party, which we had almost forgotten about. But, although we didn’t want any more to eat, we decided to go check it out and perhaps have an after-dinner drink.
Party by the Pool
Since we got there late, we didn’t get to see the party in all its glory as others’ videos showed, and it didn’t help that it was also raining a little when we got there. The live music was still going but was winding down. The buffet looked great but I couldn’t even try to eat any of it.
Tom, however, valiantly made himself a plate and I sat and sipped a piña colada while he somehow found room for it. The YC staff were attentive as usual, and came by frequently to check on whether we needed anything else.
The YC party was winding down, but the 70s party downstairs in the atrium was still going strong. I had brought my 70s costume – shiny disco outfit complete with long blonde wig – but by this time I was too tired to change clothes again. We did go for a last walk around the ship and watched the party for while, then headed on back up to the Yacht Club lounge for a final nightcap before calling it a night.
And what a night – and day – it had been. It was a long one but a good one. We said goodnight to San Juan from our balcony, and I went to bed knowing that tomorrow I was going to be a whole year older (and, I hoped, at least a little bit wiser).
Stay tuned for Day Four, which (spoiler alert) turned out to be one of my very best birthdays, ever.