Day 1 and embarkation on the MSC Meraviglia…a rough start

Finally!

It’s time for the MSC Meraviglia!  We’ve been waiting a long time for this cruise to Belize, Roatan, and Costa Maya.  We had bad news however just before we cruised, when we found out that the ship would not be stopping at the long awaited Ocean Cay. It would go to Cozumel instead.  We’ve been to Cozumel too many times, so this wasn’t exactly good news.  We were told that we would receive $50 each in onboard credit, and the amount equaling 20% of what we paid for this cruise off of our next cruise.  That helped a bit, but still, we wanted to visit Ocean Cay and relax. 

We got up early, but our shuttle to the Port of Miami wasn’t leaving until 10:30 am.  We spent the night at the Red Roof Plus Miami Airport.  This is our third time staying at the motel.  We leave our car in the parking lot for the week with the Snooze, Park & Cruise package.  We’ve never had a problem, and this year, they actually have the parking lot gated.  Nice touch.  The motel was clean, but the bathtub plug didn’t work.  So much for a relaxing soak in the tub.  Also, it’s best to get a room on the side away from the airport, the airplane noise is pretty loud.   There is a complimentary shuttle to the cruise port, but you have to find your own way back after the cruise.

Port of Miami

Truthfully, I’ve sailed out of the Port of Miami a number of times, and I’ve never seen it as unorganized as it was this time.  We got to the port just after 11:00 am and had already heard that the ship would be leaving two hours late due to ship inspections. This was the Meraviglia’s first cruise out of Florida.  

We got to Terminal F at the Port of Miami, and gave our luggage to the porter.  We only had two pieces of luggage, but mine was incredibly heavy, so we tipped him $5.00.  There was a small line outside the terminal, but it only took about ten minutes to get through Security.  The agent checked our passports and cruise tickets, then we put our carry on backpacks through the X-Ray machine.  

Next we went up the escalator to the check in area.  This is where it gets fun.  I’ve never seen a check in line that was as long as this line.  Diamond members had at least five check in windows, while the rest of us stood in line for at least an hour.  I know that this was the Meraviglia’s first cruise out of Miami, but they have had experience with embarkation with the Seaside in the past.  I would have thought that they would have figured it out by now.  They needed a lot more agents at the empty windows to check people in.

They did start using the Diamond windows for the rest of us, so the line started going a bit faster.  Finally, we got to the window, got our pictures taken, and were given our sea cards and our embarkation number, which was number four. Then we went up another level to the boarding area.

Confusion Reigns

At around 12:30 pm we got to the waiting area to board the Meraviglia.  We saw an area full of comfortable looking seats, so we sat down. Immediately we were told that we could not sit there.  This area was reserved for priority guests.  The employees in this area were not particularly helpful, and were somewhat rude.  We finally figured out that we needed to keep walking…and walking…to the area where non-priority were to sit.  That is one long terminal!

We finally found an area with folding chairs, and not enough of them.   We found two seats, but a fan was blowing right down on them.  Guess that’s why they were empty.  We stood for awhile, and then finally found an area in the very back that had a few empty seats.  There were quite a few people sitting on the floor.  And rumor had it that we could not board until 2:00 pm. They did have fruit water for us, at least.  But it was past lunch, and there was a long line at the candy machine.  Thankfully I had brought a small snack.   

And we’re moving…I think…

Finally, people got up and started moving toward the far end of the terminal.  We had no idea of what was happening, we could hear nothing, but we followed anyway.  Previously we had thought that Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale was the most unorganized, but now the award goes to the Port of Miami.  Instead of using a loud speaker to announce the boarding number, the poor girl was trying to yell it out over that long crowded and noisy terminal.  And of course, no one could hear.   

We got as close as we could, and finally found out that boarding number one was boarding.  It was about another half an hour until they called number four.  We went up the escalator, they scanned our sea card before we got on the gangway, and they we finally walked onto the ship.  And we were starving.  I pictured a mad rush to the buffet.

Terminal crowds waiting

Finally…lunch

We used the stairs to get to the Marketplace Buffet on deck 15, the elevators were already packed with people.  Once in, we walked all the way to the back, usually the back is less crowded.  There were a lot of empty tables in the back, but we went outside to the deck and found some very nice tables with an ocean view.  It was so much more pleasant and quiet.  

I had a piece of whole wheat pizza, since I’d heard people rave about the pizza.  Also, some chicken pot pie, a hotdog, and a salad.  To drink they had water, juice, and unsweetened tea, plus coffee and hot tea.  I wasn’t really impressed with the pizza.  It just wasn’t that tasty.  But the hotdogs and the french fries are delicious!

Our cabin

While we were eating it was announced that our cabins were ready, so we headed to balcony cabin 9246 on deck nine.  And our luggage was already there!  I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever gotten our luggage on a cruise ship.  Good job!

We decided to unpack before we did anything else, just to get it over with.  It’s not an easy job.  There’s not a lot of storage in the cabins on Meraviglia, but you can manage.  There are some shelves, and two drawers, plus there were plenty of hangers.  And while unpacking, I discovered that I didn’t have my seasick medication.  Oh oh…not good.

  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin
  • meraviglia balcony cabin

Exploring the ship and the Muster Drill

We decided to explore a bit after we unpacked.  We had a dinner time of 5:15 pm, so we didn’t have a lot of time.   Let me tell you, the Meraviglia is a HUGE ship.  One thing that really impressed me is the dome ceiling in the Promenade.  It is absolutely beautiful.  It’s a lot like the dome on Fremont Street in Las Vegas.

At around 4:50 pm, everyone started heading to their Muster Drill stations.  We had Station I, which is in the Casino.  Not bad, because we could sit down.  There really wasn’t much of a drill at all.  Basically, they showed how to put on the life jacket in six or seven different languages, and that was the extent of it.

Multiple languages

One of the things that’s so different about this ship is that everything is explained in multiple languages and it takes forever.  There is a large international mix of passengers on this ship.  If I had to estimate, I’d say 75% European, and less than 25% American.

Dinner

Dinner was very unorganized this first day on the Meraviglia.  We were in the Waves dining room at table 331.  Our seating time was at 5:15 pm, right after the Muster Drill.  But the staff was not ready for us at that time.  A crowd formed outside the door and we finally got into the dining room at around 5:30 pm.  We were led straight to our table, and were joined by two other couples.  

That first day, service was very slow.  Our waiter introduced himself, and was a nice gentleman from Indonesia.  However, he was working alone and had far too many people to serve.  So we waited…and waited for our appetizer.  Then it took over an hour in the very noisy dining room to get our main course.  We eventually gave up and decided not to wait for our dessert and went to the buffet to get something.

Food Quality

I had ordered Pork Roll & Potatoes.  The pork was just so-so, the potatoes were good.  He ordered the NY Strip Steak that’s on the every day menu.  He ordered in done medium.  The waiter told him that it was going to take quite a while to get it cooked medium, and this is after we’d been waiting forever for our food.  And then, not two minutes later, he brought out the steak, which was well done and tough.  He couldn’t even finish half of it, and the other gentleman at the table couldn’t eat his either.  Thank goodness for the buffet.  

Show reservations & linking your credit card

You are supposed to make reservations for each show in the Broadway Theater during the week.  There are three showtimes a night.  You can make the reservations on the huge touch screens that you find throughout the ship.  We didn’t really find that it was hard to find a seat to get in without a reservation, but you can only go in five minutes before the show starts.

There are also screens throughout the ship where you can link your credit card to your sea card.  We used a Discover Card.

MSC for Me app

We’ve had some success with the MSC for Me app.  You don’t have to buy internet to use it, you use the MSC hotspot in your Wi-fi screen on your phone.  The app doesn’t work well until you’re on the ship and hooked up to the wi-fi hotspot.  When you open it on the ship it will prompt you to set up the wi-fi.  You use an internet number that’s on  your sea card, and your cabin number.  The wi-fi drops sometimes and then comes back on, but we did manage to use the chat feature sometimes.  I never did figure out how to make a reservation on it or see the menu for the day.

Reception Desk & Cirque du Soleil Desk

Next we went down to the Cirque du Soleil desk to get a reservation.  When we booked our cruise, we received a complimentary show for Vilaggio and a meal in the Carousel Lounge.  It took us four tries waiting in long lines, but we finally found a shorter line after dinner and waited in it to get a reservation.  We ended up getting a reservation for day two of our cruise at 8:45 pm and were looking forward to not having to go back to the main dining room for dinner again.  Hopefully the service will be quicker at the show.

Then we stood in the long line to the reception desk because I wanted to get the MSC for Me wrist band.  They’re pretty cool, you can use them for getting into your room, buying things, and making reservations.  One of the customer service agents came to the line and helped me.  I also got a couple of complimentary sea sickness pills, just in case.  So far I’ve been trying green apples, available in the buffet, and they have helped.

Headliner show

The show for the night was called Virtual, and we didn’t have any idea of what to expect.  It was an interesting, although somewhat odd show about a man’s dependence on his cell phone.  Not the kind of show that you’d normally see on a cruise, but it was still enjoyable.  The entertainment staff seems to be very talented.  

Cruise Director

The Cruise Director’s name is Gene Young, and is rare in the fact that he’s from Utah, in the United States.  So far we’ve enjoyed him.

Time to wrap it up for the day

After the show we went back to the buffet for some coffee & pizza, since we really hadn’t enjoyed our dinner.  I was still not impressed with the pizza, I can get much better pizza at home.  The coffee was very good, and they do have flavored creamers.  

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