MSC Yacht Club offers an intimate experience aboard a large ship: Travel Weekly

ON BOARD THE MSC SEASHORE – Much like the first class flying experience, the MSC Yacht Club may have ruined me for the main part of a cruise ship.

The ship-to-ship concept provides guests with the upscale and intimate experience traditionally found on small luxury ships while still having access to the attractions of larger ships.

MSC opened its largest Yacht Club to date on the line’s newest vessel, the 5,632-passenger MSC Seashore, which entered service last summer. The four-level area, located at the very front of the ship, is serene and spacious. He has his own restaurant; an open-air buffet and bar on the upper deck open for every meal next to the pool; and another bar and lounge with an outdoor seating area overlooking the bow.

The four-level area at the front of MSC Seashore has its own pool deck and restaurant. Photo credit: courtesy of MSC Cruises

Every Yacht Club guest has a butler, and although I have had butler service on several luxury cruise ships, having one on a contemporary ship adds a new level of value in that the butler allows you to ‘avoid the hassle of large ships.

The main one is in line. Let’s face it, a lot of vacation time is being stolen because of this, whether it’s at the airport, in terminals, or even on ships.

We arrived at the Port of Miami for our pre-Western Caribbean vacation navigation to find a boarding bottleneck, due to handling all the additional requirements created by the Covid testing. I heard quite a few people say that they waited two hours to get on board.

Not us. MSC Yacht Club guests had an exclusive check-in and waiting area, with on-site butlers to check in and escort us to the bridge.

Once on board, we learned that the butlers’ line-cutting superpowers extended throughout the ship. Our butler, Manoj Pereira, let us know that whenever we wanted to go anywhere – whether to the theater, a specialty restaurant, or even off the ship – he was escorting us.

We have learned the hard way not to resist. When we booked a boat trip to the Costa Maya in Mexico, Pereira insisted on escorting us through the drop-off area, where we cut a long line of people, and completely out of the ship to make sure we got to the right waiting area.

As grateful as we are, when we set off on our own for a subsequent excursion to Roatan, Honduras, we felt foolish asking to be escorted off the ship. But we learned right away that just being in the Yacht Club doesn’t get you to the front of the disembarkation line; Pereira does.

But it’s not just the butler that saves you time and provides personalized service when you are a Yacht Club passenger. There was never a wait to speak to someone at the Yacht Club’s 24-hour concierge, and the desk and butler take care of spa and restaurant reservations, giving guests more than enough time for their vacation.

It’s no surprise that some Yacht Club passengers told me that the level of service in the enclave was so good that they avoided being in the main part of the ship as much as possible. But Robert Balla, director of the Seashore Yacht Club, said guests shouldn’t compare experiences.

“When you travel in business class you have different expectations,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the service is worse or better. It means it’s different and more personalized. And I will say, along with the price you pay.”

T0110MSCYCOWNERSUITEBALC_C_HR [credit: Courtesy of MSC Cruises]

The owner’s suite on the MSC Seashore has its own balcony. Photo credit: courtesy of MSC Cruises

In the Yacht Club, this service comes with a lot more space per passenger than on the rest of the ship and exclusive amenities like the small swimming pool and hot tubs. There was never a time when we couldn’t get space in a Yacht Club space, yet the spaces were always busy.

But Balla said that as beautiful as the spaces that make up the Yacht Club are, “We don’t sell the rooms, we sell the experience.”

He noted that butlers play a key role in helping passengers navigate the myriad aspects of this onboard experience, helping them manage their schedules.

“You don’t have to worry about when the show is going and what kind of specialty restaurants we have,” Balla said, noting that butlers are encouraged to know about the activities and adding that the concierge takes all kinds of advice. arrangements for guests, such as private shopping or bringing the shore excursion manager to meet the guests.

“We know the expectations and our goal is to exceed expectations, not just meet them,” said Balla.

We mostly left the enclave for the fitness center and specialty restaurants, as well as to ride the slides and play in the arcade, which was my 8 year old son’s favorite. We also ventured out to watch “The Grinch” on the big screen by the pool one evening. I enjoyed having a freshly squeezed orange juice mid-morning at Deck 16 Sky Bar as my son walked the terrifying glass-floored Bridge of Sighs, 72 feet above the eight-infinity pool. bridges below.

Every time we came back to “the other side”, as we started calling the main part of the ship, it felt like we were coming home. We quickly found our favorite spots.

We almost always ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet, which had a limited but impressive selection and a menu that changed daily to include lobster tails, an Indian chicken dish, and staples like burgers and fries. Breakfast included made-to-order eggs and omelets.

T0110MSCYCDELUXESUITE_C_HR [credit: Courtesy of MSC Cruises]

Luxury suite accommodation on MSC Seashore. Photo credit: courtesy of MSC Cruises

And we started each evening sitting outside at sunset playing cards and having a cocktail and watching the harbor leave the Seashore.

On the day of disembarkation, we knew better than to refuse Pereira’s help leaving the ship, knowing the kind of expectation we might face without his help. Sure enough, he took us in front of a line of about 50 people, where we said goodbye with our throats tied.

“I miss Manoj,” my son said as soon as we left the ship. Me too.