Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

2017, right? What an emotional roller coaster! I've learned a few tough lessons this year, and in the process, learned a lot about myself. 2017 is also the year I decided to take risks and live more intentionally. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but I'm grateful to be ending the year on a higher note than it started.

Tonight is the last night of 2017. No matter your current situation, tomorrow is a new day, a new year, and a new beginning. What will you do with the blessing of another year?

Happy New Year everyone! Make 2018 count!!

MSC Seaside Naming Ceremony - Day 3

Welcome back, friends! So what did I get up to on Day 3? Well, exploring the various staterooms was top of the list! My absolute favorite was the 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom Grand Suite...because of this balcony. There are only three of these suites on the ship and they are exclusively available with the Wellness or Aurea Experiences.

The Seaside Suite features a private whirlpool tub. Look at that view!

Yacht Club guests have the luxury of a ship-within-a-ship experience. They can enjoy the general areas on board, or retreat to their private:
  • Concierge Area
  • Grill & Bar
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Sun Deck (with the option of private cabanas)
  • Top Sail Lounge

Featuring personal butlers, and first-class service, MSC's Yacht Club is the ultimate in privacy and luxury.


Touring the various stateroom worked up an appetite. The DH and I reluctantly left the Yacht Club had lunch at Seashore Restaurant, the other main dining room.

Immediately following lunch, we did a food tasting of the Specialty Restaurants. You know...for research. We had seafood samplers at Ocean Cay Restaurant, filet mignon at Butcher's Cut, banana pudding at La Boheme, and steak at Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. We heard the chef was there but we were shamelessly stuffing our faces. It was hands down, the best steak we ever had!!! I paused long enough to get these photos of Asian Market Kitchen.


We wrapped up our multi-location feast with cocktails poolside.

Work responsibilities called and the DH attended an MSC Cruises tradeshow with me. Agents received valuable information about marketing the ships, but it was perhaps more interesting to learn how dedicated the executives are to this company. There is a distinct difference being a family-owned company, and not a corporation. As an agent, I want to see MSC succeed in the North American market.

Dinner that evening was back at Ipanema. (The first night on the ship, dinner followed the Naming Ceremony and was a little hectic. Waiters sat us, not at our assigned tables, but at whichever table was free, for efficiency.) On this night, we were seated with an NYC agent and his daughter. It was fun chatting with someone who's been in the business much longer than me.

Following dinner, we explored the ship a little more. In the background, we could hear singing from the 70's party, which we'd planned to attend but missed because we were souvenir shopping. (About that, now that the ship was sailing - for a few hours anyway near Bimini in The Bahamas- the shops were open.) Finally, we ended the evening with formal pictures.

When we returned to the cabin, we packed in preparation for a 7:30 am disembarkation. It was literally the shortest cruise we'd ever taken but enjoyed it nonetheless. And I had the best time reliving it with these recaps!

If you have any questions about sailing with MSC, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

MSC Seaside Naming Ceremony - Day 2

So I've only just realized that my Day 1 recap was December 26th! #bloggerfail! We've been enjoying the final few days of Christmas Break. Grammy left early yesterday morning and we rounded out the night with a double sleepover.

Non-verbal quote of the week:

Me: "DH, twelve years ago did you think you’d be shopping for sleepover snacks and planning activities to keep the kids busy?”

DH: 🙄🙄


With a 12noon check-in time on board the MSC Seaside, the DH and I were up early to explore more of South Beach. We strolled along Collins Avenue and wound up at Collins Park, home to The Bass Museum of Art and the Rotunda.

After leaving South Alabama's icky weather, the weather was simply too pretty to spend time indoors. So we bookmarked it for later and moved on. 

Further down, we came across a slaughter of iguanas that were dining on bread and veggies left by a homeless lady. I was humbly reminded of the adage sometimes those who have less give more.

We walked a little further, had a video call with the kids to show them the sights, and realized we were nearing 11am. We took the free trolley back to the hotel, more for the experience than anything, grabbed our bags, and took a Lyft to the Port of Miami.

Twenty minutes later, this came into view:

Side note...MSC is an acronym for Mediterranean Shipping Company. (This explains the branding on the cargo vessel docked alongside the MSC Seaside.) MSC is owned by the Aponte Family, whose seafaring vocation has been recorded since 1675! It is a widely recognized brand in Europe and South America. With MSC Divina, MSC Seaside, and 12 new ships on the way, MSC is hoping to establish itself in the North American market.

We arrived at the port around 11:30am. It was evident we weren't the only two hoping to arrive early to beat the long lines. After what felt like the longest check-in process ever, we finally boarded around 2pm.

We checked out our Fantasy Balcony Stateroom on Deck 11 for a few minutes, then headed straight for the buffet. We filled up at Biscayne Bay on Deck 16, as well as the Marketplace Buffet on Deck 8. It was standard American fare and was absolutely delicious!

I didn't get a whole lot of photos because by this point I was starving! But I did want to show the handwashing stations in the buffet areas above. I thought this was a luxurious touch since not everyone favors hand sanitizer.

Afterward, we began exploring the ship. The MSC Seaside is beautifully designed and well appointed. The exterior is inspired by Miami architecture and boasts the highest ratio of outdoor space per passenger than any other cruise ship. Hence the tagline, The Ship That Follows the Sun. Seaside's  purpose is to provide the best possible guest experience in warm and sunny weather conditions


 The DH loved the zip line!

I thought these features were very cool! Just don't look down.

Forest Aquaventure Park looked like tons of fun! I know Stinky and Blinky would enjoy it!

We retired to our cabin for a little rest and relaxation before the Naming Ceremony that evening on the pier. Our host for the evening was the dreamy Mario Lopez. We were introduced to the MSC executives who reinforced MSC's goals for the North American market. Dan Marino made an appearance, then we were entertained by Andrea Bocelli accompanied by Voices of Haiti, and Ricky Martin. So freakin' awesome!! Finally, Sophia Loren, the godmother of all of MSC's ships cut the ribbon which broke the champagne bottle. Cue the fireworks!


The ceremony was stunning! Afterward, we dined at Ipanema then caught the late entertainment show - Timeless. The show is a little...erm, eccentric. It was a fusion of Christmas melodies, a weird goat lady, acrobatics and Michael Jackson. The actor who played Michael was superb! I especially enjoyed the zombies from Thriller crawling up the stairs to get to the audience.

And so ended Day 2. If you've made it this far, thank you. Stay tuned for my Day 3 recap, which I promise won't be as long.