I do like to be aboard the Seaside
When MSC Cruises launched their newest, most advanced cruise ship, some of the comments may have been a little unexpected.
Scanning the social media comments on posts devoted to the public debut of the 323-metre long, 72-metre high MSC Seaside, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for my hosts. Sure, this was one big ship and quite a revolutionary design, but none of these people were here with me aboard.
Now, I get that not everyone likes a ship this size and it’s certainly not my usual choice when it comes to cruising, but I was intrigued with this vessel, particularly as it was the first in a brand new class of advanced technology ship from this ebullient Italian family-owned shipping and cruise line.
MSC Seaside brings to 14, the number of modern (and modernised) cruise ships in the world’s largest privately-owned fleet. She is the first in a new class of vessel and part of MSC Cruises’ rapid expansion plans that include the 5,714-passenger MSC Meraviglia, which entered service in June last year, and the forthcoming 200,000GRT, LNG-powered World Class, due on the water beginning 2022. MSC Cruises certainly adheres to the motto ‘big is beautiful’ with more and bigger launches planned over the next few years. Her sister ship, MSC Seaview, is due this year and will embark on Mediterranean cruises.
She will carry more than 5,000 guests in luxury, feed them in 11 separate dining venues, relax them in 20 bars and lounges, cool them in six pools and entertain them in a 1,000-seat theatre.
Notwithstanding her ample dimensions, MSC is at the forefront when it comes to the latest environmentally-friendly technology. Power-saving LED lighting is installed throughout the ship. All waste water is filtered and recycled, resulting in zero effluent discharge to the open sea. Exhaust scrubbers eliminate the most harmful of emissions.
“We build our ships to exceed all the most stringent regulations,” MSC Cruises chief executive officer Gianni Onorato told me when we cornered him in the exclusive Yacht Club bar, “The sea is our environment and all of us at MSC bring a personal commitment to protecting it.”
It could be argued that despite her size, the environmental impact per guest is less than many of the current (regular sized) cruise ships with older, less sophisticated technology.
The radical new prototype design of her superstructure is intended to create an atmosphere reminiscent of the famous Miami beach condos. MSC Seaside will be based year-round in Miami, hence the tagline “the ship that follows the sun”.
It’s the aft superstructure in particular where twin towers rise above a large pool deck that is just a few floors above the waterline and is part of a low-level promenade that encircles the ship. Two glass elevators provide access between that Deck 7 area and the other main ‘Aqua Park’ pool area way up on Deck 16. Two glass-floored catwalks and a 40-metre high ‘Bridge of Sighs’ give guests a truly breathtaking view of the ocean.
A wide promenade lined with bars and restaurants encircles Deck 8 also designed to put people closer to the sea. MSC Seaside will offer the brand’s distinctive entertainment program with innovative, high production value shows as well as a host of new international dining concepts, including the signature Asian Market Kitchen from renowned Pan-Asian chef Roy Yamaguchi. Other foodie highlights include a fancy seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay, a good ol’ American-style steakhouse, the Butcher’s Cut and a chic French bistro, La Bohème.
Young families can enjoy the Lego-themed play areas for kids up to 12. Teens can knock themselves out on an array of electronic and arcade-style games including a full-scale Formula 1 simulator – that they may have to jostle with eager adults to drive. There’s a twin cable zipline across the top deck that is the longest aboard any ship.
No new MSC vessel would be complete without the exclusive MSC Yacht Club, elevated to a whole new level on the Seaside. This luxury concept is a benchmark offering throughout the cruise industry and creates a serene ‘members only’ enclave within the ship with dedicated facilities such as spa, sundeck, restaurant, bar and superb suites with private whirlpool baths.
MSC Seaside will sail from a newly expanded and dedicated terminal in Miami on seven- and 14-night itineraries that will naturally be Caribbean in nature. Ports of call include Nassau in the Bahamas, Cozumel in Mexico, the Cayman Islands, San Juan in Puerto Rico and St Maarten among others.
Cruising is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of leisure travel, not just in Australia, but all over the world. The choice is yours whether big is your bag when it comes to ship choice, but you can be assured that these new wave of mega-liners from MSC Cruises will provide onboard activities and entertainment like never before at prices everyone can afford and with a firm acknowledgement that with such size comes responsibility for the environment. •
Photography by MSC Cruises.
For full information and itineraries on all MSC Cruise ships and destinations, see your local cruise specialist travel agent or visit msccruises.com.au