MSC Seaside is lively and fun, incorporating jaw-dropping entertainment, lots of outdoor spaces (it's a sun worshipper's paradise!) and family-friendly activities that include a 4D cinema, bowling, ziplines and a large water park.
But what really sets this vessel apart from other ships sailing in the Caribbean is its European flair and service, and the international mix of cruisers onboard.
The MSC Seaside ship’s interior showcases glitzy Italian design, meals in the dining room are European-style (read slow, sometimes taking more than two hours) and service from waiters and bartenders usually comes minus the smile many North Americans expect. Don't get us wrong, most of the MSC Seaside cruise ship crew are pleasant and generally helpful; just don't expect the over-the-top friendliness you often find on other cruise lines.
The one exception to this can be found in the MSC Seaside Yacht Club, a suites-only enclave for the ship's highest-paying passengers. Here, service is friendly, attentive and efficient, and many Yacht Club passengers spend the bulk of their time onboard within its confines, whether in the spacious lounge or on the exclusive Yacht Club sun deck with accompanying pool.
With a capacity of over 5,000 passengers, a tonnage of 153,516, and the size of three-and-a-half American football fields, MSC Seaside is an imposing vessel. It would be easy to think that with that many passengers the ship would feel crowded and chaotic. While you may not be able to find many places onboard to be perfectly alone and in absolute peace and quiet, the layout makes for good passenger flow.
MSC Seaside deck plans are well designed, with separate levels for public spaces and staterooms. The lower four decks pack in restaurants, bars, the lively atrium, general services, and the Aurea Spa and Fitness Center. Cabins are housed all together on decks 9 through 15, with the Yacht Club located on Deck 16 along with the main pool and a few restaurants. There are also a handful of cabins on Deck 5.
The best cabins on MSC Seaside for light sleepers are those on decks 10 to 14, as they are sandwiched between other cabin-only decks and get virtually no noise from public spaces.
Decks 18 through 20 are the place to go for some thrills and family fun. The kids’ and teens’ clubs are here, as are the water park, the zipline, the sports arena, and a few areas exclusive for Yacht Club guests. (Note: Be prepared to pay extra for most of the onboard activities, including all of the oversized arcade-style attractions – 4D cinema, Formula One racecar simulator, bowling, etc. – and outdoor activities like the zipline.)
MSC Cruises’ Seaside is a popular pick among guests hailing from Europe and the American Southeast. To cater to the ship's largely 40-something English- and Spanish-speaking passengers – many of whom live within driving distance of the ship’s home port of Port Canaveral – most announcements on Seaside are only made in English and Spanish.
In the theater, however, you'll hear about five languages, and there's usually a large contingent of passengers from several European countries, including Italy and Germany. MSC Seaside Caribbean cruises are particularly popular among an international crowd, as are Mediterranean itineraries.
There are plenty of opportunities to make new friends from all over the world, with anywhere from 50 percent and up of your fellow passengers from outside of North America.
Meals in the ship's two main dining rooms and two buffets
Most entertainment, including all theater shows (exclusions below)
Most daily activities (exclusions below)
Use of the onboard fitness center
· Dining at the ship's alternative restaurants
Items from the two onboard Venchi chocolate outposts
Use of the bowling alley, 4D cinema, video games and Formula One simulator
Use of the onboard zipline
Daily gratuities for the ship's crew
Spa treatments and gratuity
Sodas, specialty coffees, alcohol and gratuity (unless you've purchased a beverage package)
Organized classes in the fitness center
Daytime: Dress is casual, with people sporting everything from jeans and T-shirts to bathing suits and flip-flops.
Evening: In the evenings it's dressier, but more smart casual than formal. Jackets for men (tie optional) and dresses or pantsuits for women are appropriate, but the code isn't enforced. You may wonder if this means that MSC Seaside doesn’t have any formal nights. The answer is there are nights where passengers are suggested to dress smarter, but the dress code is elegant rather than formal. However, while suits, tuxes and ball gowns are not necessary, many passengers do wear them, particularly on "Meet the Captain" night.
Not permitted: T-shirts and shorts are not allowed in the ships' public areas in the evenings. No swimwear is allowed in main dining rooms. Jeans are not allowed in the dining room on elegant nights.
Read more about MSC Cruises dress code.
Long review of a short sailing, five years after our first Seaside cruise