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MSC Meraviglia- Day at Sea and Costa Maya

Our adventure on the Meraviglia started on March 1st with our embarkation in Miami and I soon realized we were not in Kansas anymore Toto. As I explored the Meraviglia it became apparent that this cruise was going to be different then any of the previous five cruises I had been on. The clienteles on this ship were more diverse with a multitude of languages being spoken.

Our first full day at sea started very leisurely. After dragging myself out of bed sometime between 8 and 9 am, we headed up to breakfast in the Marketplace Buffet. The selection in the buffet was extensive and included a little of something for everyone. We found a spot on the outside deck and sat and enjoyed the morning sea air. Let me tell you, what a difference two months makes. The temperature and humidity were significantly higher than when I traveled through this way earlier this year. After breakfast we decided to wander the decks and see if we missed anything. Nope pretty much found the same things we found the day before. We headed out to the pool deck to check on how things were going there. I found the pool deck packed from front to back and top to bottom with people. Finding a check would not be easy. We checked the back deck and found the same conditions on the back deck. Despite this ship being a similar size to the Quantum class ships and just under the Oasis Class ships with Royal Caribbean, the utilization of space left something to be desired. I noticed there were very few decks for people to lay out in the sun which meant everyone was huddled around the pool decks. This created a crowded feel and made it feel like there were several thousand people on the ship. This took me back a little since I had just been on a ship that held over 6,000 people and with a few minor exceptions never felt like there were that many people onboard. We decided to go where the people were not. The casino for some slot play- not going well today and then back to the one place I knew there would be room to sit- our balcony. This photo was taken at lunchtime. If you notice there are open lounge chairs but have the universal sign for this seat is taken, a towel.

Once we arrived back at our room, I ran into interesting fact with MSC. As I have clients traveling this week and wanted to be available in case they needed something, I purchased the unlimited internet package. Now this package allows for 10 different devices to be connected but only one at a time. No problem I will simply switch back and forth between my phone and computer when not working. After logging into my phone to shut the internet off and activate it on my laptop, I find out that my phone will not disconnect. I call down to guest services and find out that while they say you can use it on 10 devices what they really mean is you can use it on 1 device period. The guest services representative however shuts it off on my phone which allowed me to connect it to my laptop. He then informed me that I will have to do this each time I want to switch back and forth. I am fairly confident they will not like me by the end of the week.

After getting the laptop up and running, I got to work helping clients and writing the horrible blogs that only my loving family reads and those who need something to put them to sleep. After spending much of the afternoon on our balcony listening to the waves crash and writing about our first few days, I finally finished.

After finally getting things posted, I realized it was time to get ready for supper. Tonight, is the only formal night onboard this cruise. So, we dressed in our bests and headed to Butchers Cut. This is one of the specialty restaurants that came with the dining packages we purchased. As the name would imply, this is a steak house. For those considering MSC, it is important to know that there are some policies, procedures or just they way the do things that you should know about. We have the easy beverage package. This package is good for non-alcoholic drinks and alcoholic drinks up to $6. If you want something outside of that they will charge you full price. While this is not an issue for me since I do not drink, there is also another restriction that the package has. If you dine in a specialty restaurant, your package is not valid in that restaurant. You may use it at the bars, lounges, and complementary dining venues only. This was not really an issue for us because water is always free.

Upon arriving at the dining venue, we were seated right away. The restaurant is small and quaint but does have overflow seating just outside the restaurant. Once we got our menu it took a minute for me to figure out what my options were. While we had purchased a dining packages, apparently it is only considered an experience. I had to ready the entire menu to understand what my options were. I learned that they have a special menu when you by an experience. You can pick anything off that menu, or you can upgrade your dinner for half the price of the other items. While the selection was slightly limited under the experience, they had decent choices including Filet Mignon. For me the real issue is if I pay to eat at a specialty restaurant, I do not expect to have to pay even more for additional menu items. I am already paying to be there. The service was good, but it would have been nice to have a waiter explain what our options were instead of having to guess. They only downside to the restaurant was the lady who sent her Filet Mignon back four times because it was not cooked right and then complained about every other aspect of the supper. By the way, all the steaks were medium rare, and you could see that from a distance. But I think she got her meal feel.

After supper we headed to the Broadway Theatre to watch Born to Rock. This was a collection of some of the all-time great rock stars including the Beatles, Elvis, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, and Queen. The show was well done and probably the best so far. Okay there have only been two, but it was going to be hard to beat. If you sail with MSC, this show is a must. After the show, we headed to Karaoke, only because we really had nothing else to do. After watching a really good singer and a lot of not so good singers we turned in for the night. On Tap for tomorrow- Dune Buggies in Costa Maya.

As we arose for the 3rd day of our journey, I woke to a familiar sight. The coastline of Mexico and the stunning views of Costa Maya and Mahahual- the small fishing village near the port. The weather for the day was absolutely perfect. The sun was shining, and the temps were in the mid-80s with a nice breeze to keep things cool. So, after sitting down for a nice breakfast outside overlooking Costa Maya, we proceeded down to the Broadway theatre for join up with our excursion. Now I normally do not take excursions through the cruise line. While they offer the added benefit of making sure you get to the ship on time, they tend to be larger groups and it feels more like herding cats then it does an excursion. Unfortunately, I was having issues finding this tour outside of the cruise line, so we were left no choice. I knew from previous experience in this port however that the tour would leave from the port so I would not have to worry about a long and boring bus ride.

As we got off the ship, we headed into the port to meet up with the tour guide. There were approximately 26 other people in our group including a couple from Nashville whose house was close to where the tornado hit. Our guides Eduardo and Santos gave us the run down on the dune buggies and where we would be going. They advised that because of the number of participants we would have to pair up. Mom and I joined up with the couple from Nashville, Kevin and Julia. We decided Kevin would drive for the first half of the excursion. As we got to the buggy, I realized we were going to need a crowbar to pry me out of the back of this thing. There was hardly any room in the back of the buggy to sit. Right after we crawled into the buggy, Santos came over and tells us they have extra buggies and we could have our own. So, after crawling out of the buggy we headed to our buggy. Or did we? As we got to the back of the other buggies, the mechanics informed Santos there were no buggies. I advised santos we would take his and lead the group. He said no. So back into the buggy with Julia and Kevin we went. The excursion was supposed to take use on a dune buggy ride through the jungle and then onto the beach. From there we would get an opportunity to snorkel, kayak, and enjoy the beach for a bit. So, we took off from the port in our buggies down the highway. Once on the highway, we opened it up a bit until we turned onto a back-gravel road headed for the coast. The drive was nice but far from expectations. We then got to an area that I guess they considered a beach and drove through several areas of rocky, rutted terrain. Our guide said to follow him, so Kevin did just that, speed and all. We were tossed from side to side like a rag doll and bounced up and down like a toddler on grandpa’s knee. The course was made 200 yards tops that we drove. At the end Kevin just about ran into our guide. Santos advised we were at the halfway point of the tour and it was time to switch drivers.

After a short talk about the Mayan culture and some nice photo ops, we loaded back up into the buggies to head out. This time it was my turn to drive. We decided it was going to be hard to do any better the Kevin, but I was going to give it a shot. Back we went through the same course this time we went the opposite direction, however. We again followed instructions and follow him though the course driving in the same manner, fast and rough. We watch as the other groups appeared to be out for a Sunday drive- amateurs. So, one more run through the rock and sand and then off to the jungle. As we got to the end of the course, I made good on my promise to Santos. I was taking his buggy. Right before we got to the road, I broke the buggy. I have idea what we broke, but it had not more power and not more drive. Apparently, the last bump was a doozy. After switching over to Santos’ buggy, we were on our way again. We then got to the jungle portion of the journey. This was all a little misleading, the jungle portion of the trip was approximately 5 minutes if that and other then a few bumps and a few trees branches to the legs was pretty tame. From there it was a short drive into Mahahual where we stopped at a beach resort for about an hour or so for food, shopping and some beach time. The seaweed was starting to pile up on the beach, but they were doing what they could to clear it. We walked around doing a little shopping before loading back up in the buggies and heading back to the port.

Upon arriving back at the ship, we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed to the pool deck. After 5 cruises, I finally made it to the pool. Spend a few minutes trying out the water slides. The Meraviglia had two innertube slides and one body slide. It also had a splash park for the kids. The slides were fun but a few times down each was enough. We then headed to the Horizon pool for a quick dip and relaxation. After about an hour or so we headed back to the room to clean up for supper.

Tonight, was going to be a normal evening for us. We ate in the main dining room this evening and followed it up with a show in the Broadway Theatre. Dinner was average again. The choices were a little better than the night before but still nothing to die for. After supper we went to the show Paz which celebrated the Flamingo dance. The show was well done, and the dancers are clearly talented. After the show it was back to the casino to reclaim my money. Mission accomplished. From there it was back to bed for an early start and unfortunately a time change which has not been common in my cruising experience.

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