The first ship built by MSC Cruises specifically to cater to the North American market, MSC Seaside -- the namesake of the line's Seaside Class -- brings new entertainment, a variety of specialty restaurants, larger MSC Yacht Club facilities, family- and penthouse-style suites, and an expanded kids club to U.S. waters.
However, the vessel's main attraction is its plethora of outdoor spaces, including glass-bottom bridges, two extra-fee ziplines, a water park with three slides and an adventure course, and alfresco spa treatments. A pair of rear-facing glass-enclosed elevators moves up and down Seaside's aft, providing views out over the ocean and the ship's wake. Also at the aft are Miami-inspired condo-style cabins with wraparound balconies that offer similar breathtaking views.
Billed as "the ship that follows the sun," Seaside aims to bring passengers closer to nature, and the line has made an effort to work that theme into the ship's decor. A stunning four-deck atrium sits at the center of the ship, and the focal point is a set of three giant LED screens that showcase things like plant life and jellyfish on a rotating basis. In front of each screen is a small balcony that serves as a venue for musical and acrobatic performances.
Additionally, chrome accents and mirrors have been used throughout, creating a bright, glittering atmosphere. (Be careful. The mirrors are so convincing that we almost walked into a few when we weren't paying attention.)
Also a standout is Seaside's cutting-edge technology. In addition to the aforementioned LED screens, you'll find MSC for Me touchpoints that allow passengers to navigate through the ship, view daily schedules, and make dinner and show reservations. The system can also be accessed via cabin TVs and the MSC for Me mobile app. MSC for Me bracelets link it all together, allowing hands-free purchases and cabin access. The kids clubs have kicked the tech up a notch, too, with interactive game shows, touch screens for creating song lists and even a 3D printer.
One of MSC's strongest points has always been -- and, on Seaside, continues to be -- entertainment, with different 30- to 35-minute production shows every night. True to form, the line has managed to incorporate new shows to cater to Americans while retaining appeal for those who might not speak English. It's a hallmark the line has traditionally upheld via acts that include acrobats, magicians and dancers.
While the cruise line hasn't always received the highest marks for food from its American passengers, it has taken steps to improve and, as a result, dining is much improved onboard Seaside. In addition to two main dining rooms, two buffets and three specialty restaurants (one which encompasses three separate experiences), MSC has partnered with Italian chocolatier Venchi to bring passengers a la carte gelato, chocolate by the pound and Italian hot chocolate among other goodies.
As for the service onboard, we found most of the staff to be pleasant and generally helpful. But don't expect the over-the-top friendliness you often find on other cruise lines. MSC's European background means crew can be formal and unsmiling. And, as in Europe, expect slower service in bars and some of the dining venues.
Overall, Seaside shines -- literally and figuratively. It's like that new snazzy car you've always wanted to buy -- chic, glamorous and cutting edge.