A Well-Priced Winner Seaside Embodies The Evolution Of MSC
by Vanessa Lee
A toast to MSC **
Captain with Sophia Loren **
Chef Roy Yamaguchi **
The water park **
The chocolate wall **
A few weeks ago I wrote a glowing column about my brief experience onboard MSC’s brand new ship the Seaside, launched in Miami just before Christmas. With the holiday shuffle, some of the excitement may have been lost - so here’s a more in-depth overview.
The Seaside arrival is big news for Canadian cruisers and travel sellers alike. With MSC finally basing a ship in Miami on a year-round basis, it will be a very attractive option for those clients looking for a mainstream ship with great entertainment and a fun, buzzing vibe.
It’s also one that is very well-priced – you might even say underpriced at present. This will no doubt change in the nearer term so if you have clients looking for a Caribbean cruise to escape our winter weather, I strongly suggest the Seaside as a viable option.
I would give this ship an 83% out of 100%. A strong score and the best I have ever given a ship from this fleet. As noted in my previous column, I really feel MSC has “come a long way baby.” This is an elegant and beautiful ship with very few jarring notes. The main public rooms and outside decks are lovely and the beyond-sexy atrium spanning four decks is stunning and a hot spot for all.
There is enough alternate dining to keep more discerning guests happy, and the talented, charming celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi and his team are hard at work ensuring his Asian Kitchen three-restaurant space is humming harmoniously.
I have to say that a disappointing note for me was one of the main dining rooms – of which there are two. We dined there one evening and although the service was attentive and thoughtful, I found the room very crowded and not terribly appealing. As in the past, the main restaurants do seem crowded and tables are too close together. I wish they would just take this down a notch and rework the rooms to afford a calmer atmosphere and the ability to have a private conversation. It can be done.
As noted previously there are two buffet/lido restaurants, one of which is designed more specifically for families (great idea). We dined on several occasions in one, including a casual dinner one night. They need to improve this area on Deck 8 a bit and provide a little more choice, especially with the salad bar.
Again, however, I was very impressed with the level of service, the willingness of the staff to help and in general a great attitude across the board. The staff are from a wide variety of countries and their ability to understand English-speaking guests and our peculiarities has greatly improved. As it had to.
One of the weaker points for me, which is why my score ended at 83% rather than 85% or 87%, was my stateroom, which was a Balcony Fantastica B2 Category. I found it to be somewhat unattractive in the colour scheme (subjective of course) but also the closet space was very badly designed and became an irritant. The bed is too close to the closet and the sliding door is a nuisance. I would hope they will look at this and see if a change can be made at a drydock down the road. The overall size of the stateroom was fine, with most elements perfectly acceptable. I would give the staterooms a 72% score so you can see how much the rest of the ship brought up the overall mark.
There is a lovely, elegant coffee bar space called Venchi, a “Cioccogelateria” (chocolates and ice creams) and a Creperie. The chocolate wall is wonderful. The tastes are divine no matter what you order and it is just a delightful spot on Deck 6. There is also an outlet on Deck 7 aft by the South Beach pool. I loved it and believe it is the epitome of the direction MSC is taking. One I applaud – and a 92%!
The outdoor decks, waterparks, kid spaces, zip-lines and so forth are great. You can sit up on deck sipping a cocktail and see the zip-liners whizz by you – the kids are off playing and the adults are having fun too. The ship works well and feels as though everyone can find their place, no matter their preferences.
When the Seaside was launched, christened by the divine Sophia Loren at a star-studded, over the top fabulous ceremony, it was a clear indication of the focus MSC is giving to North America, which pleases me. This was the first MSC ship to be named on our shores and it was a beyond impressive, fun and thoughtful evening.
Guests danced in the aisles, some wept and were also swept away in a loving and special event. Incomparable tenor Andrea Bocelli sang three songs accompanied by the Voices of Haiti, a charity funded by Bocelli’s foundation and made up of 60 vulnerable Haitian children.
To MSC I say ‘Bravo!’ I firmly believe you are entering the next stage of your evolution as one of the world’s leading (and fastest-growing) cruise brands, and sincerely congratulate all of you on an impressive ship which will delight cruisers for years to come.
** Photo by Tim Boyles Photography
Vanessa Lee Columnist
An internationally-known luxury cruise expert, Vanessa is publisher and editor of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles magazine. She contributes a column every other Friday for OJ’s Splash News and appears with Nina on the bi-monthly video Cruise Factor.