MSC Cruises, experts in Mediterranean cruising, are not to be outdone by the huge number of lines with new ships underway. Aria, Eden, Harmony, Encore, Ovation... the list is long and getting longer. With their Project Seaside, a new class of "ships that follow the sun" MSC will branch out to cruise more regularly in North America in addition to their extensive European offering.
In a press release yesterday, June 22nd, MSC announced that construction on their first next-generation vessel, to be named the MSC Seaside, officially began at Fincantieri's shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The occasion was marked with a ceremony during which the first piece of steel was cut.
The line's Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, said: "Today, we have witnessed the beginning of the work on an extraordinary new ship, MSC Seaside. It is a ship that revolutionises industry standards, with an audacious and innovative design that brings guests and sea closer. It is also a testament to MSC Cruises' constant focus on innovation, as it is the fifth prototype ship we designed."
The launch date for the MSC Seaside is set for December 2017. She will be the flagship of a Seaside-class fleet, with second and third ships slated to follow in 2018 and 2021.
What you might find at the Seaside
CEO Giuseppe Bono of Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilding company contracted to build the MSC Seaside, describes the MSC Seaside as a "brand new and highly ambitious project." It will be the biggest vessel built in the company's own shipyards, and will mark a completely new and modern design.
Large, spacious and designed for comfort are words which have been used to describe the new ship. It will also be technologically advanced, and MSC has partnered with global brands to ensure excellence in all areas of shipboard life.
The following are a few key features which will get cruisers excited for this new generation of MSC Cruises:
- An interactive and original aqua park with five water slides, slideboarding, an adventure trail and more. This isn't just for the kids but fun for all ages.
- Interconnected cabin options are a much-coveted feature on any ship, and the MSC Seaside will cater well to families and groups with "cluster cabins".
- Luxury suites will feature private jacuzzis and hanging gardens.
- Ocean views are a theme throughout the ship, starting of course with the name. A two-deck glass-walled atrium and glass lifts will allow the outside in.
- Restaurant brand Eataly will work with MSC on the dining options, Lego will have a hand in the children's entertainment programs and Samsung have helped to develop an immersive virtual experience to showcase the Seaside product to prospective passengers.
- Eco-friendliness is a priority, and the Seaside class ships will have Advanced Water Treatment systems, garbage treatment plants, emission-reducing scrubbers, hulls designed for optimum fuel efficiency and LED lighting.
A newcomer for the Caribbean
Although MSC does offer limited Caribbean itineraries over the winter season, Project Seaside heralds a new era of North American cruising for the line. The MSC Seaside will be the first in the fleet to be christened in the United States, and will also to be homeported in Florida to sail the Caribbean year-round.
Port Miami is the intended homeport for the MSC Seaside, and welcomed the line in March with this statement from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giminez: "PortMiami is proud to be known worldwide as the Cruise Capital of the World. We look forward to MSC Cruises' continued growth and expansion at Port Miami. The cruise lines and their passengers are vital to the continual growth of the tourism industry in Miami-Dade County. We look forward to welcoming the MSC Seaside in 2017."
There are plans for a dedicated MSC terminal and a dedicated, expanded berth at the port so that the line's passengers can enjoy a streamlined experience from embarkation to disembarkation.
It will be a while before the Seaside itineraries become available - but in the meantime, you can take a look at MSC cruise deals on their current fleet of stunning Italian-style ships.