Family Vacation on the MSC Cruises Yacht Club

By Stephen Scott, Protravel International Luxury Travel Agent

This month my family of four enjoyed a 7-night cruise to the Western Caribbean with MSC Cruises and had a truly wonderful experience in the Yacht Club (YC) on the MSC Seaside. They consistently and effortlessly gave us a luxury cruise experience within a much larger ship, and it far exceeded not only my cruise on the Divina from 4 years ago, but many of the experiences I have had at Virtuoso properties around the world. If your last experience was with MSC years ago, or even the Seaside when it launched in 2017 you should know that there have been significant changes to the service and experience that should encourage you to give them another chance.

For those that have not heard of or experienced the MSC Yacht Club, it is no longer just a separate area of the ship, but they have extended the services to make you feel it throughout the cruise on and off. I can tell you that these days Yacht Club guests are encompassed in an oasis of a separate location, ship wide amenities, and service that rivals the best small-ship luxury experiences available. I have sailed on the Silversea Silver Muse, the MS Europa 2, and the Haven on Norwegian’s Escape as comparison and this met or exceeded those experiences on more than a few occasions. To simply put it, it felt more fluid, and not simply about my room experience but my overall experience on the vacation.

Upon arrival at the curb at Port Miami we were whisked away from the crowds into a relaxing lounge dedicated only to the Yacht Club and VIP guests to handle our check-in process while we relaxed on comfy couches, ate snacks, and enjoyed our first glasses of champagne. We then met our Butler Maria shortly thereafter who took us up a dedicated elevator while holding my youngest child’s hand while she escorted us to our suite, and then off to the pool deck for some quick bites and ice cream.

I cannot count how many times our butler or one of the other butler’s identified us by name and advanced us to the front of a line at the show to dedicated seating for the YC Guests during sold out shows, or escorted us to dinner, or upon our return to the ship catch us before we got into the long line to get back on the ship and walk us past 50 or more people to walk us right up to the security to check us into the ship. I’m still shocked at how well we were treated, and the other YC guests were absolutely raving about their experiences as well.

The YC team really seemed like they are not just there to do their jobs, they were honestly looking out for us at every single moment to ensure we were not in a large crowd, waiting in line, or looking for assistance. I never had a service experience as good as this on land or via cruise and I’ve stayed at the at many of the top luxury hotels around the Caribbean, Middle East and Europe. The feeling you get when for a split second you encounter a crowded situation and hear the words “Mr. and Mrs. Scott, welcome, please follow me.” Then before you know it you are whisked to the front of the line thanks to you being a Yacht Club guest.

Why is this important? Because you may have guests that don’t expect that level of service unless you take a small luxury cruise. Yes with most small ships you may get an excellent butler, but if that is the case then everyone has one. There is not the opportunity to separate from your other cruisers because everyone is treated the same.

 

Many YC guests spent most of their time in all of the Yacht Club lounges, pool areas and dining venues but when they step outside into the larger ship for major events, or to disembark they are escorted or provided with skip-the-line passes, or VIP tenders back to the ship from the islands. It’s not always an either or as they have really worked to extend your benefits beyond the YC doors this year. This really makes a difference when you have young kids to handle or don’t like crowds.

The additional downside for a family like mine is that we love luxury and the service that goes with it but the small ships do not have much for the kids to do. The Seaside is absolutely full of things for the entire family to do, and when we need to retreat or get spoiled a bit, we head back into the Yacht Club which feels like we literally stepped onto a completely different ship. There were regular cooking demonstrations by the chef by the Yacht Club pool, servers strolling the tables and chairs with ice cold beers and drinks that they were just handing out to whomever needed something and no-one had to sign a bill, or lift a finger because it was just simply a relaxed and fun experience across the pool deck.

Our family truly loved our cruise because the entire team made us feel welcome, supported, and relaxed at every step of the way. In the dedicated Yacht Club Restaurant, the Chef even offered to create a special request for us and made us a Filipino dish every night to go with our meals so that my wife felt like she was back home in Manila. Things like that happened every day in different ways.

The changes to the entertainment was noticeable as well because it now felt varied, current, and enjoyed standing ovations from the crowd on at least 3 out of the 7 nights. The Michael Jackson show has been fine-tuned just right, and the additions of the biggest songs and productions from the movie Greatest Showman were phenomenal. We really had a great time onboard and the nightly entertainment was a major part of it.

This was personally my 3rd time sailing with MSC Cruises and the 2nd time on the MSC Seaside and the changes they have made over the last year really showed me that they have listened to the consumer and trade feedback and worked hard to adjust for the better across the entire ship. If you are looking to book a great family cruise for your client, don’t hesitate to quote them on the MSC Seaside in the Yacht Club. It was the best cruise experience this Virtuoso Advisor has had with his family ever.

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