Ocean Cay is the premium seafood restaurant on MSC Cruise ships with an extensive menu focused on preparation methods often found in Italy & the Mediterranean region. The food, while fresh, will likely be a little unusual for the American market. For example, finding a Squid Ragout or Grilled Octopus on a menu in America won’t be common.
For those who aren’t experimental eaters, there are seafood staples that will appeal to most, such as Lump Crab Cake, Clams, and Seared Tuna.
The Atmosphere & Service
The restaurant is simple, yet well done with a fresh nautical theme. Upon entering, especially on the MSC Meraviglia, is quite confusing. For some reason, MSC has decided to put the general reservation desk within the Ocean Cay restaurant. When you enter to get your reserved table, you end up standing around among others just looking to book tables at all restaurants on board.
After a few minutes, we sought out someone working within the restaurant and let them know we were there for a reservation time (which had long passed while waiting around with other passengers just wanting to make or change reservations). We were then immediately seated.
Once seated, the server presents a menu in a timely manner and proceeded to explain the various entrees and spent an unfortunate amount of time explaining how the “Dining Experience” menu was more limited and how we could choose other items on the menu for a discount, should they not be included in the “Dining Experience”.
All of the explaining about the menus and packages detracted from the overall experience since it started to feel like an exercise in math and economics.
Once everyone got through the confusion of the menu, dining package, beverage package, etc – everything was smooth and the service was friendly and attentive.
Since we had the dining package credit to use, we naturally felt compelled to select from that limited menu, and nothing else on the main menu seemed of particular value even at half off (which you get if you swap an item from the fixed dining experience menu). The Appetizers were the hit of the whole menu with the lump crab cake and tuna tartare being perfect (albeit in small portions). The main courses were a bit of a disappointment. The choices were extremely limited and what we did get was not prepared well. For example, the Sesame seared tuna sounded great but when it arrived, the Sesame seeds overpowered every other flavor. The tuna was seared and rare as expected but felt like it was pre-done and not done to order and the quality of the fish wasn’t what you’d expect in a finer dining establishment serving the same meal. Desserts were good, as usual throughout the ship.
Unfortunately, the wine choices that fit within the “easy plus” package were limited and trying to get a cocktail, even a simple gin and tonic was like trying to move heaven and earth.
In the end, we felt like the limited dining options for the pre-set experience menu, the brain damage of the drinks and substitution costs mixed with the average at best quality didn’t make Ocean Cay stand out or worth using a premium dining credit on. However, if you have the unlimited dining package, mix up your dining and definitely give it a try.