A Caribbean Family Adventure at Sea

Why choose a cruise?

A chapter of my travel journey was working at sea for almost four years. Even though I’m familiar with ‘cruising etiquette’ – the lingo, top tips and knowing the difference between the many brands – it has been almost ten years since I last tested out my sea legs! I worked for Azamara Cruises – who at the time, were part of the Royal Caribbean portfolio – within the entertainment team and in a nut-shell, I saw the world. With under 700 guests (posh word for passengers) serviced by a crew of 400, Azamara could be likened to a floating country club, rather than a small city like some of the mega-ships of today!

For anyone thinking of cruising for the first time, or if you’re wondering what MSC are like, here’s an overview of both.

MSC Seascape infinity pool aft

New to cruise or a regular sailor?

To the newbies – cruising can feel worlds away from a purely land-based holiday. It’s safe to say they are different and many find it hard to see past the stereotypes that cruising has been associated with; formal nights with strict dress codes, typically geared towards an older generation, dining being on a fixed schedule, ships being claustrophobic, etc – oh, and the possibility of getting sea sick! Cruising now-a-days couldn’t be further from any of those. Ships are getting bigger, and bolder – and in some cases, smaller and more boutique, sailing to more unique destinations around the world whilst the possibilities onboard are becoming equally endless. 

We chose MSC for a few different reasons;

  • they’re family friendly – travelling with an 18 month old we knew our days of laying around a pool were numbered. We knew on a cruise like this there’d be more than enough to keep him entertained
  • the itinerary – even though I spent a lot of time at sea, many of the ports of call were new for me, as well as visiting places we never normally would
  • mixing it up – we were keen to try something different. A mega-ship was going to be a complete change to our usual resort & villa holidays.

There are many pros to choosing to cruise; from waking up somewhere new everyday to only unpacking once. It’s easy & convenient having everything under one roof, too – countless restaurants, bars, pools, entertainment and more. There’s something special about being at sea. It’s a relaxing, calming way to holiday, with plenty of opportunity to party if you wish. You haven’t seen a sunrise or sunset until you’ve seen one at sea.

MSC Seascape baby club
Ocean Drive, Miami

The logistics

We boarded MSC Seascape in Miami, which is a popular location for cruises to start and finish. We flew from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic, who provided an enjoyable 10-hour direct flight. After an overnight stay on South Beach and an early (actually, very early), but beautiful sunrise stroll along Ocean Drive, we took a short taxi ride from our hotel to the cruise terminal, eager to get a first glimpse of our gigantic home for the next seven days. 

Each guest/booking is allocated a timeframe to board the ship – 5,000+ passengers descending all at once would never work! But fear not; it’s all perfectly organised and executed to make the embarkation process smooth and stress-free. A porter tagged our luggage outside the terminal, whisked it away then we were free to check-in and board the ship. We next saw our bags outside our stateroom a few hours later – super simple!

There’s a brief security search once inside the terminal, followed by a check-in desk where we were given lots of information and our stateroom keycards, which also act as your ID whilst onboard. MSC (like most cruise lines) are ‘cashless’, meaning all your onboard spending is done digitally. Our keycards were linked to our credit card ahead of any extra purchases – the gratuities were already taken care of in the overall cost of the cruise. After a quick photo for security purposes we were ready to board – everything was very seamless and we were headed up the gangway in no time.

Once onboard we were greeted by super smiley and friendly crew, all happy to point us in the right direction. We had a few hours free to explore the ship before our staterooms were ready – this helped get our bearings, figure out where everything was and try to work out if we were walking to the aft or the forward part of the ship… actually, this took longer than the first couple of hours. Fun fact, MSC Seascape is 6 times bigger than the Azamara ships I used to work on!

This is one of the busiest and perhaps, slightly overwhelming times on the ship – especially for a new-to-cruise guest – as everyone is boarding at a similar time in similar locations, congregating across the public spaces. Once guests have access to their staterooms and have become familiar with the layout and decks, everyone moves around much more freely and it’s surprising how ‘spread-out’ 5,000 people suddenly feels.

MSC Seascape, Times Square

MSC Seascape

MSC Seascape launched in late 2022, so she was a brand new and extra shiny ship. 339 metres in length (the longest in the fleet), spanning 20 decks and at capacity, holds 5,878 passengers and 1,413 crew members – pretty mind blowing to think of a ship as a small floating town! Its humongous size (but by no means the biggest at sea) meant there was plenty of space for everyone – with over 130,000 sqm of outdoor areas, it rarely felt overcrowded, which is often one of the first questions we get asked when contemplating a cruise on a ship this size.

MSC Deluxe Balcony BR1

We chose to stay in a Deluxe Balcony stateroom located on deck 9 in the middle of the ship (perfect for feeling less ‘movement’.) Being able to step outside, listen to the gently rolling waves and have space for our little one to explore (safely!), was a big highlight. The ship features numerous categories from interior staterooms to large suites. We pre-purchased a WiFi package which gave us access on two devices. Top Tip – it’s always better to add any extras before your departure, as they’ll be more expensive to purchase onboard!

Dining is often a big deal at sea. It’s usually exceptionally good and can provide unique experiences. We pre-purchased a ‘Trilogy dining package’ so that we could experience three of the speciality restaurants – seafood, a steakhouse and Mexican – we then added a fourth, Teppanyaki once onboard because it smelled too good to resist every time we walked past! The three remaining nights we enjoyed in the ‘Main Dining Room’, which still offers à la carte, flexibility and a variety of menu options. Then of course, there’s the buffet that takes up almost the entirety of Deck 16, which is perfect for fussy little ones to be able to grab things on the go, 24/7!

The bars didn’t disappoint either, ranging from intimate cocktail lounges (my personal favourite) to pool bars, a coffee corner, champagne bar and a full-size sports bar.

No two nights are the same on any cruise – from large scale theatrical productions to immersive entertainment, live bands and singers in lounges, Gala Night, lively discos with DJ’s, outdoor deck parties, a casino, comedy and magic shows and much more! Filing the 2 days at sea during our itinerary was very easy to do, as Seascape isn’t short of facilities – a full size games arcade with an F1 simulator, kids clubs ranging from babies to teens, a rollercoaster 53m above the sea (seriously!), a basketball court, 3 water slides within a multi-deck water park, a glass-floored bridge 22m above sea level, an infinity pool overlooking the aft of the ship, a cabaret lounge, spa, state-of-art gym, the list goes on. So for anyone that worries about what they might get up to onboard, being bored isn’t one an option! 

MSC Seascape
MSC Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, Bahamas

our caribbean & antilles itinerary

The itineraries onboard MSC Seascape (in particular) for this year and into next, are to the Caribbean & Antilles sailing out of Miami. Getting on & off the ship was never a problem – there’s no immigration to clear or passports to be scanned, and ships of this size have multiple gangways operating, so you’re free to come and go throughout the day at your leisure. We chose to explore all the destinations on our own, however, official excursions in groups are bookable onboard too. Our voyage stopped in the following ports;

  • Ocean Cay, Bahamas – MSC’s very own marine park and private island. We had full exclusivity, as the island becomes an extension of the ship – even the all-inclusive continued on the island!
  • Nassau, Bahamas – A busy, but relatively small town and capital of the Bahamas. A lot of ships dock here at once so it can feel quite hectic. We pre-booked a boat excursion that took us to Rose Island, where we swam and hung out with pigs on the beach!
  • Sea Day – A day enjoying all the activities onboard; water slides, the Robotron rollercoaster on the very top deck and a few hours spent relaxing around the jungle solarium pool!
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico – Old San Juan was a combination of colourful buildings, hidden cobbled back-streets, local eateries and historic squares overlooking the sea. Perfectly explorable in a day and one that gave us an appetite to explore more of this diverse part of the world. 
  • Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic – Plenty to see and do here. We took the ‘Telefercio Puerto Plata’ – the only cable car in the Caribbean – to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres for magnificent views over the whole bay, before we found a local beach for lunch.
  • Sea Day – Our last full day aboard Seascape, making sure we’d covered it all!
  • Miami – We disembarked the ship with a full day to explore more of the city, before our evening/overnight direct flight home. 

In all honesty, it’s very difficult not to have an incredible time on a ship like Seascape. You can make it all about the kids, or you can indulge in everything that’s on offer for the adults, too. Food is of the highest quality and the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff is parallel to that often found on smaller, intimate ships. After reading this, you may still think cruising isn’t for you, but our trip seemed to surprised a few people that didn’t realise the possibilities and advantages of a cruise, and are now considering taking one!

MSC is just one cruise line in a whole host of potentials – some are more port intensive, spending longer in each location; some feature Broadway & West End shows, ice rinks, surf machines; some boast Michelin-star gourmet dining. Some are of course a lot smaller in size, too. There’s also the option of adults-only, a Disney adventure at sea, yacht style, expedition & wildlife focused cruises and a whole heap more! 

Hopefully this has inspired you to try a new or different style of holiday. We would love answer any questions you may have and help find the right cruise for you.

MSC Seascape Family Cruise Offer

  • MSC Seascape, 7 night Caribbean & Antilles Itinerary
    • Miami > At Sea > Ocho Rios, Jamaica > George Town, Cayman Islands > Cozumel, Mexico > At Sea > Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Bahamas > Miami
  • February 10th 2024 (Half-Term) with alternate dates available
  • 2 Adults + 1 Infant(0-2)
    • from £589 per person, cruise only rate
    • from £739 per person, all-inclusive rate
  • 2 Adults + 1 Junior Child (2-11)
    • from £689 per person, cruise only rate
    • from £869 per person, all-inclusive rate
  • 2 Adults + 1 Teen (12-17)
    • from £739 per person, cruise only rate
    • from £899 per person, all-inclusive rate

Book with us today

Now is always the best time to book your next holiday and we’re here to take all of your stress away. Simply get in touch with our travel experts for an initial consultation and whether you need a little inspiration or know exactly what you want – with a little help from us – you’ll soon be jetting off to your next destination.