Elegant, Glamorous and Sensual MSC delivers a stunner with the Seaside
by Vanessa Lee
Atrium DJ and LED Screens **
The Atrium Decks 5 through 8 with crystal staircases **
Ocean Cay on Seaside, Deck 16 **
Sushi at Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi **
Deck 7 aft
I am very happy to report that MSC has finally arrived in North America. Not literally, because the line has been here for a while, but in the sense that MSC now understands the market and has delivered a ship and an experience that can compete.
The MSC Seaside is ultra-glam and has many attributes that will suit a large and varied audience. She is really very lovely and is ideal for our market here – cleverly designed and with some wonderful spaces and many fun things to do for cruisers of all ages.
Here’s my take on several aspects, some of the spaces and cuisine choices as well as some suggestions on switching up a few things to make guests even happier.
The Atrium, which is mid-ship and anchors Decks 5 through 8, is beyond amazing. It is the best I have ever seen at sea on more than 200 ships. It is sexy, vibrant, swooping and the place to be.
Those exquisite sweeping Swarovski crystal staircases connecting each of the decks are wonderful, but the best part for me was the tier just above the sexy bar which hosts a band, singers or a DJ for nightly entertainment and above which are four large LED screens that change constantly and add to the whole feel of the space. It is such a simple concept yet I have never seen it used this way. Guests will love this gathering spot for cocktails or champagne at any time of the day or just generally to see and be seen.
The Atrium really showcases how MSC has upped its game in ship design and created something that virtually everyone will embrace and enjoy. Every ship needs a heart and this is it for Seaside. However, there are a number of really gorgeous rooms on this ship and they flow well and seamlessly, for the most part, into each other. I prefer the décor on this ship, more muted but yet very elegant and no harsh or jarring moments. If anything, a few rooms, like the Haven Lounge, could use more splashes of colour and style, which is unusual for MSC, so I applaud these changes.
Other winners – the alternative restaurants on Deck 16 which encompass a steak house with the slightly unfortunate name of Butcher’s Cut, the really pleasing Ocean Cay for seafood, and the three-in-one restaurant space on one side of the ship designed and created by celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi.
The Asian Market Kitchen offers a Teppanyaki room, a Sushi Food Bar and a Pan-Asian venue. It’s yet another sexy and alluring space and I also loved the busy and romantic bar that serves as a great pre- or post-dinner space. They are all truly gorgeous and although not open for dining on this preview sailing, I feel comfortable in the quality and the menu choices. Costs for Ocean Cay can be à la carte or $50 for a specific menu choice. At the Asian Market there are four distinct menus that range from $20 to $55 US and $12 for the kids. Sushi is $28 or again à la carte selections are on offer – so reasonable prices overall.
Another improvement is the very popular Yacht Club which finally has its own restaurant contained within the ship-within-a-ship concept high up on Deck 16. The two-level space that comprises both the lounge and bar area now also holds an upper level balcony restaurant. I still find the Yacht Club corridors and planning a little confusing but it is certainly improved and now also has its own spa area as well as a private sunning terrace and pool.
The design of the ship is bold and innovative and this is particularly visible on Deck 7 aft. The Miami condo look comes from this area with two panoramic elevators in between two “towers” of rooms. It is very unusual, but unforgettable too. I loved the catwalk topping this space – dubbed the ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ it offers an impressive view off the ship but also down to the South Beach pool and bar area.
However, I would love to see some more casual rattan seating with couches, chairs and perhaps potted plants in this area, particularly at night. It seems a wee bit lacking to me and it could be absolutely fabulous if some furniture elements were added.
This continues with the overall concept of the Promenade around the ship which is mostly on Deck 8 and comes down to Deck 7 at the aforementioned pool. There is plenty of space and people can stroll easily but I found that the indoor/outdoor dining/drinking potential was somewhat lacking.
Yes, you can take your meal outside from the Marketplace Buffet on Deck 8 but it’s quite bland out there. There are no bars there either. I really feel the potential is there to make some changes and engage guests to enjoy more of the outdoors while enjoying a meal or a drink. Speaking of buffets, there are two, with a smaller one on Deck 16 geared for families with kid-height counters – another great idea.
Families will love this ship as there are lots of areas designed to keep everyone happy. This includes double zip lines, four waterslides, bowling alley, arcade games and the terrific Jungle Pool and play area. There are babysitting programs, Kids Clubs for all ages and way more.
What else? There is a lot more than I can write about here. So, I will expand my Seaside thoughts in my next column, as this ship truly deserves attention and you all have clients that will love it, for myriad reasons. This is not just a ship “that follows the sun,” as MSC states, but a ship and a cruise line basking in the glow of a warm and bright sun.