MSC Sea­side

John Roberts checks out MSC’s big new ship sail­ing the Caribbean.

Cruise Passenger - - CONTENTS -

Ilooked out to­ward the scenic Mi­ami sky­line on a mostly sunny day, know­ing I had the best view on the world’s new­est mega-cruise ship and thought: “This is so cool!”

Mo­ments later, I was glid­ing along the long­est zi­pline on a cruise ship – 20 decks up and high over the lido deck on MSC Sea­side – and for about 30 sec­onds I had a bird’s-eye look at much of what makes this ves­sel dif­fer­ent. OfÞ­cially named on De­cem­ber 21, 2017, Sea­side is one of the Þrst in MSC Cruis­esÕ next gen­er­a­tion of ships and was built speciÞ­cally for sail­ing in the Caribbean from its home­port in Mi­ami.

The new ship boasts the great­est share of out­door space when com­pared with all other cruise ships. An ex­tra-wide promenade wraps around deck 7 to cre­ate the sun-splashed Wa­ter­front Board­walk. At the back of the ship on this deck is the South Beach Pool, an ideal chill­out space that sits be­low a dou­ble stack of con­do­minium-style tow­ers that are home to fancy suites with wrap­around bal­conies. The whole scene gives a feel that you are sit­u­ated amid Mi­ami Beach con­dos, which is just what MSC Cruises is go­ing for with this ship.

The line touts Sea­side as “the ship that fol­lows the sun”, and its de­sign won­der­fully in­te­grates the in­door and out­door spa­ces, es­pe­cially along the promenade, where sev­eral lounges and din­ing venues of­fer the choice of in­door or out­door seat­ing.

MSC is due to launch sis­ter ship

MSC Seaview in June to sail in the Mediter­ranean. Both ships can carry more than 5,000 pas­sen­gers at max­i­mum ca­pac­ity and aim to give their oc­cu­pants plenty to do in­side and out.

The record-set­ting zi­pline at­trac­tion fea­tures two lines that run side-by-side and carry scream­ing pas­sen­gers 105 me­ters across the length of the pool deck over the large video screen and through a set of rings. This is just one of sev­eral fun at­trac­tions at the top of the ship.

Hun­dreds of adults on my sail­ing lined up to ride down rac­ing wa­ter slides

and the in­ter­ac­tive slide­board wa­ter ride (you use joy­sticks on your seat to com­pete in a video game with other pas­sen­gers dur­ing your run). We also un­leashed our child­hood spir­its by play­ing in the tree­house ropes course and splash­ing around in the ship’s For­est Aqua Ven­ture area.

MSC Sea­side fea­tures plenty to do in­doors, too, with a full menu of din­ing and ac­tiv­i­ties. The ship is ideal for cou­ples and fam­i­lies seek­ing a bud­get price on a ship that also of­fers a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties. MSC of­fers week-long itin­er­ar­ies to ports such as Ja­maica, the Ba­hamas, An­tigua and Mex­ico – start­ing at about US$800 per per­son.

Stan­dard in­te­rior, ocean­view and bal­cony cab­ins are a lit­tle cramped for two peo­ple, and we strug­gled a bit with the limited stor­age space. How­ever, if you step up in class for your state­room, you get added space and perks. Bal­cony cab­ins and deluxe suites can be booked with added ex­pe­ri­ences such as Well­ness or Aurea Spa pack­ages, which come with a full menu of in­cluded ex­pe­ri­ences and ameni­ties fo­cused on Þt­ness and spa treat­ments, re­spec­tively.

The ship also of­fers con­nect­ing cab­ins for fam­i­lies or groups sail­ing to­gether.

The MSC Yacht Club “ship within a ship” area is our fa­vorite on­board fea­ture. Cruis­ers have their own MSC Yacht Club lounge, a but­ler, concierge ser­vice, ex­clu­sive restau­rant, un­lim­ited drinks at MSC Yacht Club venues, com­pli­men­tary ac­cess to the Ther­mal Suite spa area, and an ex­clu­sive sun deck, lounge and swim­ming area. If you book a state­room in the MSC Yacht Club, you will have a de­cid­edly more all-in­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

The MSC Aurea Spa is spec­tac­u­lar. It has a full range of treat­ments, of course, but the best part is the Ther­mal Suite area, which in­cludes heated ce­ramic loungers, pri­vate sun deck with hot tubs, mul­ti­ple types of steam baths, saunas, shower pods, tha­las­sother­apy pool, snow room and salt re­lax­ation room. Pas­sen­gers can buy day passes or cruise-long passes to this serene haven.

A large gym is packed with all the equip­ment needed for your work­out, and you can pay for Þt­ness ses­sions such as per­sonal train­ing or spin classes.

The in­door spa­ces are el­e­gant, with mod­ern de­signs through­out. The line’s sig­na­ture Swarovski crys­tal stair­case is a cen­ter­piece of the glitzy atrium. The atrium is a top gath­er­ing spot in the ship, with four lev­els of bars and lounges look­ing to­ward a stage, where song and dance rou­tines take place.

A large Sports Bar of­fers a wide range of seat­ing ar­eas and plenty of TVs to watch the games. Plus, this is where you Õll Þnd a greater va­ri­ety of craft beers.

The Bowl­ing Al­ley and Ar­cade fea­tures two lanes and in­ter­ac­tive games and ex­pe­ri­ences, from video game con­soles to the 4D the­atre where you strap in to mo­tion seats to play shooter games that tar­get zom­bies or were­wolves. A For­mula One rac­ing sim­u­la­tor lets you test your driv­ing skills while tucked into the cock­pit of a full-size open-wheel car. At the back of the ar­cade area, the Garage Club disco is decked out in vin­tage 1950s Amer­i­cana decor.

Pro­duc­tion shows take place in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan The­atre (the Michael Jack­son re­vue is among the best pro­duc­tions we’ve seen at sea), and the ship also of­fers kids’ clubs with age-ap­pro­pri­ate pro­gram­ming and fam­ily movie nights sched­uled twice per cruise.

MSC de­signed Sea­side with a speciÞc em­pha­sis on di­verse culi­nary op­tions and its spe­cialty din­ing venues are the stars. Un­for­tu­nately, the main din­ing room ex­pe­ri­ence was te­dious, with meals stretch­ing too long be­tween cour­ses and a menu of pretty stan­dard cruise fare. The two buf­fet ar­eas of­fered a skimpy va­ri­ety, but the breads and pizza were de­li­cious.

To make up for th­ese down­sides, there are four for-fee restau­rants of­fer­ing cuisines to tempt all tastes. Pas­sen­gers can Þnd Þxed-price menus and a la carte op­tions at Asian Mar­ket Kitchen, Butcher’s Cut (steak­house), Ocean Cay (seafood), and Bistrot La Bo­heme (French). Asian Mar­ket is a trio of venues serv­ing tep­pa­nyaki, sushi and Hawai­ian-Pan Asian cui­sine, cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with celebrity chef Roy Ya­m­aguchi. The at­trac­tive restau­rant com­plex has a spa­cious bar area to have a cock­tail be­fore your meals.

Ge­lato, crepes and spe­cialty cof­fees are avail­able for a fee at a cafe area by the South Beach Pool area. This is a won­der­ful space to re­lax un­der the moon­light af­ter a food- and ac­tiv­ity-Þlled day.

“A For­mula One sim­u­la­tor lets you test your driv­ing skills while tucked into the cock­pit of a full-size open-wheel car”

The new MSC Sea­side has the long­est zi­pline at sea

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