cruise expert


Superstars, Slides & Speciality Dining – My Review of MSC Seaview

MSC Seaview

I was delighted to be invited to the christening of the brand new MSC Seaview in Genoa.  In two days I managed to dine in six restaurants, slide down a 367-foot water slide, swim, dance and even shoot a few zombies! Check out my review of MSC Seaview.

MSC are renowned for their lavish ship christenings, and this one was no exception. Hollywood legend Sophia Loren, the Godmother of all MSC ships, was there to cut the ribbon, and listening to Andrea Boceilli’s son Mateo sing, was a personal highlight for me. There were fireworks and an exclusive after party – all in true Italian style! To be honest, none of this really surprised me, what did, was the cruise ship….

review of msc seaview

I had pre-conceived ideas about MSC Cruise ships. I was on board MSC Splendida in Dublin port a few years ago, and expected MSC Seaview to be an upgraded, modern version of Splendida. I was wrong. In fact with the exception of the Swarovski staircases, I saw very little similarity between the two cruise ships.

MSC Seaview is extremely modern. She is bright, airy, elegant, sophisticated, I could go on and on. Live music bellowed from the atrium as we boarded. This four-storey dazzling masterpiece is the focal point of the ship. The Seaview bar is strategically placed at the bottom. This transforms from a morning café, to the perfect bar for an aperitif, and finally to a dance floor when the late night entertainment kicks in.

There is live music and entertainment in the atrium throughout the day, with a variety of bars on each deck. We went here on the first night and it reminded me of being at a great concert – the atmosphere was electric, people were singing and dancing on all decks overlooking the stage.

review of msc seaview

MSC Seaview has 20 different bars and lounges, each one offering something a little special. The Champagne bar was a favourite of ours. It serves a wide variety of bubbles to suit all tastes, and if you pre-purchase the drinks package before you sail (€26 per day), you can enjoy Prosecco here free of charge. Gin lovers will love the Platinum bar in the casino, where you can create the perfect Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic by infusing it with floral, spicy, or citrus aromas.

The sports bar is not your average sports bar either. There is sports memorabilia on the walls, and massive TV screens show a variety of sports, but the bar itself is classy. There are private booths with individual TV screens for private enjoyment, as well as football shaped bean bags for a relaxed casual atmosphere. It’s the type of bar than non-sports fans could go to and have a drink, while their partners watched the match.

 There are plenty of outdoor bars too, most serving up cocktails or whatever takes your fancy. I loved the Sunset bar at the back of the ship which conveniently plays music after dark. We enjoyed cocktails al fresco and danced until the small hours. It felt like I was on a super-yacht in Miami rather than a cruise-ship in Genoa!

review of msc seaview


Food glorious food on MSC Seaview

During my time as a travel agent I heard people complain about the variety of food on MSC cruises. To say MSC have upped their game is an understatement. The main buffet restaurant, called ‘Marketplace’ has a variety of options including its own pizzeria, offering delicious pizza slices. I also had tasty Nasi Goreng as well as breaded chicken fillets (I ate here twice!), and unlike some of my previous experience of buffet restaurants, everything was hot.

I am not normally a buffet fan, I hate the constant banging of plates and the hustle for seats. What I loved about this buffet is that it is surrounded on three sides by outdoor seating areas – I would happily dine there every day for lunch. They also have a small buffet restaurant close to the pool on deck 15, which has child accessible counters.

review of msc seaview

We ate in the main dining room at night-time. With the exception of one bland starter, the food was of a very high quality. I had a delicious crab and lobster starter plate, a beef fillet that was perfectly cooked, and a warm chocolate molten cake that literally melted in my mouth.

I asked our server if this was typical of the dinner that guests could expect on board, and I was told that it was a ‘special menu’ which would be typical of a gala night. So while fillet steak may not be on the menu every night, I would like to think that the standard and quality of the food would be the same.

I was lucky to be able to sample some of the specialty dining options too. The Asian Market Kitchen has three different dining experiences in one restaurant. Celebrity chef Riy Yamaguchi partnered with MSC to bring an à la carte Asian restaurant, a modern teppanyaki grill where chefs perform and cook in front of you, and last but not least, a Sushi bar. I tried all three and I think I would end up eating here a few times if I was on a typical seven-night cruise.

There is also a trendy steakhouse, the Butchers Cut, for those looking for American cuisine, and Ocean Cay by Spanish Michelin Star chef Ramón Freixa, served up mouthwatering seafood. 

review of msc seaview

The only way to follow this was to try the chocolate tasting in Venchi bar. This famous Italian chocolate maker has been making chocolate since 1878. A salted caramel gelato and some chocolate truffles later and I had reached my limit!

I was genuinely amazed by the variety and quality of the food available on this ship. Note there are additional charges for the six speciality dining restaurants, but they are a fraction of what you would pay in a similar restaurant in a city.

review of msc seaview

One of the most innovative things about MSC Seaview is the amount of outdoor space. There is more outdoor space per guest than any other cruise ship in the world, 3.2 square meters per guest to be precise. To use MSC’s own words, the ship is designed to ‘follow the sun’.

The Waterfront boardwalk wraps all around the ship and is the widest seen on any ship. The ‘Bridge of Sighs’ is a see-through walkway at the back of the ship where you can see the Sunset pool 40 meters below. There are other glass-floored catwalks, that make you feel like you are walking on water, and there are panoramic glass lifts to maximise the sea views.

Kids facilities on MSC Seaview

The facilities for kids on board are superb. The Forest Adventure Aquapark has slides and rope bridges, as well as faster slides for older kids – or adults, depending on your mood. There are two racer slides with clear loops that extend out over the ship, and a 367-foot water slide with lights and music that you slide down with a mat. I tried this and screamed the whole way down, but I loved it!

If all this isn’t enough you can race your mates on the dual zip lines – they are the longest at sea, test your skills on the Formula 1 simulator, or kill some zombies in the 4D interactive cinema. This reminded me of a simulator ride in Universal Studios rather than an interactive cinema.

Six of us sat in a car simulator with 3D glasses and watched as hundreds of zombies climbed on top of us. The object is to shoot as many zombies as possible, the winner being the person who shot the most. We laughed the whole way through, it was hilarious!

However for a more relaxed experience, you can enjoy a game of bowling or watch a movie in the outdoor cinema.

review of msc seaview

MSC is a family owned company, and they pride themselves on offering superb children’s facilities. It is not only the modern activities that kids will love, their kids clubs are excellent too. MSC have partnered with LEGO and offer two LEGO rooms, one for ages 3-6 and another from age 7-11. Toddlers will love the baby club which has the latest Chicco equipment.

Teenagers have their very own teen club. Expect sports tournaments, dance contests, social network games, flashmobs discos and parties. Teens can have their own cruise card, where you can set the limits and control their daily spend – this is available from age 7 – 17.

I love that you can always know where your kids are by locating them on the MSC for Me wristbands. This technology enables parents and staff to monitor their children at all times on the ship, so you can take a trip to the spa and not have to worry about their location.

review of msc seaview

I was really impressed with MSC Seaview. She ‘had me at hello’, when at first glance she reminded me of a super yacht rather than a massive cruise ship. And when I got to my stateroom and saw the pillow menu and a high speed hairdryer – I was sold! 

The attention to detail is evident throughout the ship. The classy bars, choice of dining options, the kids facilities, it even boasts the most state-of-the-art gym, and the largest spa at sea! MSC really has pushed the boat out with MSC Seaview.

review of msc seaview
MSC Aurea Spa


Things to watch out for.

Like all cruise ships, there can be extra charges. Drinks, speciality dining options, simulators, bowling, WiFi and spa treatments all incur additional charges. Check with your travel agent when booking and try to pre-book as many packages as possible to maximise value.  See for more details or your local travel agent.


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The Travel Expert

In The Media

Choosing The Right Cruise Holiday – As Discussed with Ivan Yates on Newstalk FM

spectrum of the seas

Want to go on a cruise holiday, but not sure which cruise ship is right for you? Here are my top cruise tips and cruise deals to help you choose the best cruise holiday.


Peoples perception of cruises have changed greatly in the last number of years. While cruises were once considered more suitable for the elderly, nowadays most of the newer ships cater more for families. Not only have our tastes changed but cruise companies have adapted and now have a wider appeal.

I have been on board many ships and I can honestly say there is a cruise to suit all tastes. Cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels, in some cases they are more like floating cities. You can choose the massive ships like Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas which can carry nearly 7000 passengers, or you can opt for a smaller intimate river cruise, like Uniworld’s SS Catherine, which carries 159 passengers.

It is not only the cruise companies that differ in style, cruise ships can vary greatly within each cruise company. I have been on some of MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ older cruise ships and they are completely different to their newer ships. Similarly with itineraries, while many of Royal Caribbean’s ships are family focused, if you choose a Norwegian Fjords or Baltic Capitals cruise, you will probably find mostly couples on board; families tend to choose Mediterranean or Caribbean cruises.

best cruise holiday

Cruising is now one of the fastest growing markets in the travel industry. Approximately 35,000 Irish people enjoyed a cruise holiday last year and this is likely to be even higher this year. (credit Eoghan Corry, TravelExtra). There will also be 400 cruise ships visiting Ireland this year, over 150 of those in Dublin port alone, bringing in 270,000 passengers.

It seems like every other month there is a new cruise launch, which makes choosing the right cruise, harder and harder. I have listed some of my favourite cruise ships and cruise deals below which may help you decide how to choose the best cruise holiday for you.

best cruise holiday

Royal Caribbean’s – Symphony of the Seas

If you want non-stop action and great facilities for kids, then it is hard to beat Royal Caribbean Cruises. Symphony of the Seas is the newest and largest ship at sea and was recently launched in Barcelona. I was lucky to be on board it’s sister ship last year for two days with my family, and we had a blast.

There are numerous swimming pools, a kids splash park, three water slides and also the largest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss. This is a pair of slides that offer a 100 foot drop over 10 decks. You can also zip line (I did and it was terrifying), ice skate, surf, use the rock climbing wall.

best cruise holiday

There are over 20 different restaurants on board, some with additional charges but there are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise. This innovative ship has bionic bars (where your drinks are served by robots) and a bar that moves between decks so you don’t miss any action, kind of like a large elevator with a bar inside!

There are seven different neighbourhoods on board including the Boardwalk and Central Park which has 12,000 real trees and plants! They also offer amazing entertainment at night time with top class west end shows and an aqua theatre at the back of the ship.

This modern show sees acrobats and synchronised swimmers perform just as the sun sets over the horizon. The entertainment caters so well for Irish and UK holiday makers and a fun filled holiday is guaranteed. You can read my review here.

best cruise holiday


MSC Seaview

I am just back from a quick visit for the christening of this brand new ship in Genoa. I was previously on MSC Splendida and expected a more modern version but similar in style. I was wrong. This ultra modern cruise ship can hold 5,000 passengers, has 20 different bars and lounges, 10 different dining venues, a different show each night and a host of facilities for kids.

There are three different water slides and a separate adventure splash park for younger kids, with slides and rope bridges. Adrenaline junkies will love the zipline, it is the longest zip line at sea! There is also a bowling alley and two simulator rides, one of which is a Formula 1 simulator.

best cruise holiday
I loved all the open spaces on this ship, it has more open space per guest than any other ship at sea, 3.2 meters per guest. There is a boardwalk that wraps around the entire ship, with al fresco dining even from the buffet restaurant.

Most of the cabins are balcony cabins and they also have a five star area, the MSC Yacht Club which has exclusive suites, private dining and pool area. MSC Seaview is extremely stylish and classy, a great choice for a couple or a family.

Many believe that Royal Caribbean are the market leader in Ireland but MSC actually sold 2000 more cruise packages in 2017. They also have the best value drinks package on the market. For €26 per day you can have unlimited drinks including prosecco and selected branded drinks. Most of the other cruise companies charge about €60 per day for a similar package.


Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Silhouette

For those who are looking for something a little more upmarket then try 5 Star Celebrity Cruises. I was on Celebrity Silhouette when it was docked in Dublin and I loved it. It carries 2800 passengers which I believe is a great size, not too big but not too small either. It has a country club feel rather than a large cruise ship and interiors are bright and airy.

They have a manicured grass lawn and cabanas on deck and even the sun loungers are luxurious. Over 85% of the staterooms have balconies. Many opt to stay there reading a book on sea days, meaning the pools are never crowded. The restaurants on board are top class. There are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise as well as speciality dining options.

They also offer plenty of over night stays which I think is great. They were docked in Cannes for the film festival and in France for the French Open so you can mix with the celebrities or see great sporting events, without having to pay €500 a night for a hotel room. Although there is a great mix of entertainment and kids facilities on board, it is a more relaxed ship and definitely offers modern luxury. Read my review here.

best cruise holiday

For people who don’t like flying, Celebrity Cruises cruise direct from Dublin Port to Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords. Their 2018 sailings have finished now but they are on sale for May 2019. For a full list of all 2019 cruises sailing from Ireland, click here.


Norwegian Cruise Line

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of cruising with Norwegian but I was on one of their ships, the Norwegian Star in Dublin port. They are similar in style to Royal Caribbean, with a lively atmosphere and a host of family activities on board.

They have been cruising for over 50 years, have 17 ships and they been voted Europe’s leading cruise line for the tenth year in a row. The big game changer is that all of Norwegian’s cruises are all-inclusive. And I don’t just mean local beers and cheap spirits. I mean branded drinks, as many as you like, any time of day, in all bars, lounges and dining areas – with tips included! 

The award-winning entertainment on board includes Broadway musicals, live music and comedy, as well as plenty of leisure facilities including aqua parks, kids clubs and a selection of sports activities.

best cruise holiday

Norwegian Bliss is their flagship which was launched in April. This ship has been custom-built to give jaw-dropping views from it’s revolutionary Observation Lounge, which offers the same views seen from the bridge, and has the most expansive views at sea. There are eighteen different dining options including exclusive speciality dining restaurants. 

The Waterfront is the place to go with thirteen restaurants and bars to choose from, many offering alfresco seating. The first full-service Starbucks at sea is on board too. Bliss has the largest competitive race track at sea where you can ride up to 30 miles per hour!

There is also an open-air laser tag course and an aqua park with multi-story The Broadway musical, Jersey Boys is shown nightly and at The Cavern Club, guests can enjoy their favourite songs from The Beatles. The talented cover band will play Beatles tunes in a setting inspired by the Liverpool Club where The Beatles famously performed countless times.

best cruise holiday

The Norwegian Star is one of Norwegian’s older ships but it has been fully refurbished and now offers fifteen different dining options and eleven bars.  You can sip champagne in Gatsby’s Champagne bar or drink a wide selection of international beers in the outdoor Bier Garten.

There are two main dining rooms as well as a variety of cafés and fast food outlets, as well as speciality dining options, which incur a separate charge. The pool deck has two waterslides and six hot tubs and there is an indoor lap pool in the Spa. Read my review here.

 best cruise holiday


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The Travel Expert

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My Review of Disney Magic Cruise Ship

Captain Mickey and First Mate Minnie on the Disney Magic

Read my review of Disney Magic cruise ship and find out was it really magical.

I had the chance to tour Disney Magic when it was docked in Dublin Port recently. The first thing that struck me when I saw the 2700 passenger cruise ship was how different it looked compared to other modern cruise ships. It appeared old-fashioned, but when I heard that it was specifically designed to resemble one of the iconic ocean cruise liners from the 1920s, (similar to the one that Walt Disney himself honeymooned on), I suddenly found myself loving its outward appearance.

It was a modern take on an old classic – how wonderfully Disney! Like everything on board, the attention to detail is exemplary. The hull is painted a marine navy that was especially designed for Disney to match Mickey Mouses’ coat, and the life-boats are yellow in colour to match Mickey’s shoes. Disney needed special dispensation from the US Coast Guard to use these colours, as all other life-boats are orange.

review of disney magic cruise ship

That pretty much set the tone for our tour. When you look closely you can see Mickey Mouse iconic ears everywhere, in the lampshades, the wallpaper and on occasion even the carpets. Some of our group felt it wasn’t ‘Disney’ enough but I liked the understated style rather than feeling you were in Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse all day long. 

The Atrium is classic cruise style, beige and gold colours, warm and welcoming and thankfully not too dark. The pool decks are as you would expect from Disney, full of fun for kids of all ages. There is a small splash park for the little ones with a large water slide. 

The entry to ‘AquaDunk’, is located in the one of the funnels of the ship close to one of the teen zones. The floor opens like a trap door and you slide right out over the side of the ship!

review of disney magic cruise ship

There are tween and teen zones on board too – the Edge from age 11 – 14 and Vibe from 14- 17yrs. Movies are shown in many areas, in the 3D cinema and at the large screen at the pool.  I was amazed to learn that new releases are shown on board too, on the same day that they are released in the US, so no matter when you cruise, you wont miss opening night. 

As well as shows and kids clubs, children also get a chance to meet their favourite characters on board. There will be specific meet and greet times in the Atrium, but they also allow the characters to wander around the ship at various times so children can also come upon them by chance.

review of disney cruise ship

The Small World Nursery takes babies from 12 weeks and the Disney Oceaneer kids club from age 3-12 years. This is home to Andy’s room from Toy Story, complete with all his favourite toys!

Even the corridor outside the kids clubs have lower ceilings than in other parts of the ship, to make children feel taller – Disney really do think of everything. All kids clubs are open from 9am to midnight and parents can drop their kids in at anytime.

review of disney magic cruise ship

Disney Magic is renowned for its shows and the 977 seater Walt Disney Theatre is impressive. Tangled the musical is currently showing and Beauty and the Beast is scheduled for the winter. These are top class West –End / Broadway style shows and suitable for all the family.

Disney are the only cruise ship to have fireworks at sea and in true Disney fashion, they have a Pirates IN the Caribbean show on pool deck where fireworks light the night sky.

Disney is also proud to have the largest collection of Marvel Super heroes and Super Villians ever assembled at sea. Following the show, guests will be treated to a deck party with music, dancing and of course fire works.

review of disney magic cruise ship

What surprised me most about the cruise ship was how it catered so well for adults. The rotating dining system means that you are able to dine in three different restaurants throughout the week, twice in each one, and all of this is included in the price of your cruise.

You are accompanied by the same serving team in all three restaurants so they get to know your names and tastes. Apparently after a couple of days they have your favourite drink poured when you arrive.

There is one specialty dining Italian Restaurant, Palo, but with three others to choose from you may just decide to give it a miss. If you do fancy a romantic meal for two, remember the children can stay in the kids clubs till midnight. There is also an adult pool area with a spa and hairdressers.

At night-time you can enjoy a lively drink in McGills Irish bar or a quiet one in the piano bar. Suffice to say if you want some chill time away from Mickey and Minnie, there is no shortage of options.

review of Disney Magic cruise ship

The cabins are spacious with a nautical theme. Most of them sleep two adults and two children, with some sleeping five, and there are also interconnecting cabins for larger families. 73% of cabins have an ocean view and the Disney touches are noticeable throughout.

 I particularly liked the cushion on the bed that read ‘A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep‘ 😍. The privacy curtain allows you to have some chill time if the kids need a nap during the day. Inside staterooms also have a ‘magic’ porthole where a monitor displays real time videos from HD cameras outside the ship.

review of disney magic cruise ship

We ate in Lumieres restaurant and once again there were subtle Disney references throughout. The over head lights have the enchanted red rose inside. The menu had plenty of choice and was very family friendly. I wouldn’t say it was the best meal I ever had, but then you don’t go on a Disney Cruise for fine dining. Mind you the ice cream sundae was superb!

I was particularly impressed with Animators Palate Restaurant which you visit twice during your cruise, at no extra charge. This black and white room transforms half way through dining.

The waiters change into coloured waistcoats and the walls ‘come alive’ with animation. Children are encouraged to draw pictures when they enter and their drawings come to life on the walls of the restaurant. Well it is Disney after all!

review of Disney Magic cruise ship

With Mickey Mouse as first officer and Minnie his first mate, non stop entertainment and the chance to hang out with Disney characters, a Disney Magic cruise can only be pure magic ✨


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