MSC Cruises have announced that the first of its next generation “Seaside” class of ships, which is due to enter service in November 2017, will be named MSC Seaside and will sail year-round from Miami on a selection of Caribbean itineraries.
MSC Seaside is an entirely new class of cruise liner for MSC Cruises, the largest privately-owned cruise line in the world, and the market leader in the Brazilian, Mediterranean, South African and Middle East cruise markets.
The new class of ships, of which two have been ordered from Fincantieri in Italy, will feature a dramatically low promenade deck providing an ocean boulevard feel to the traditional boat deck promenade on other cruise ships.
MSC Cruises has also announced that the ship will boast the most interactive and originally-designed aqua park at sea with five water slides and attractions for all ages. The park is being built by WhiteWater West Industries of Canada, the award-winning designer and manufacturer of waterpark attractions globally.
The decision to base the ship in the North American cruise market, the largest and most competitive in the world, underscores the Italian cruise line’s ambitions to compete more directly with ‘The Big Three’ (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line). The order for two Seaside-class cruise ships is also part of a major fleet expansion project undertaken by MSC Cruises as it seeks to set a benchmark in the cruise industry.
“The Seaside class of ships is part of MSC Cruises’ €5.1-billion fleet expansion plan that will allow the company to double its capacity by 2022,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. “Today is a very exciting day for the company as this is the first major announcement related to the company’s new builds and demonstrates our enthusiasm and long-term commitment to continuing to expand our presence in North America.”
“MSC Cruises has the unique opportunity to provide North American guests with a ‘Mediterranean Style Cruise’ experience that no other line is able to offer, and guests from around the world a unique setting as it sails to the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean” Onorato added.
The cruise line home ported MSC Divina in Miami in November 2013 for a winter season and says that the “significant demand” from the market highlighted the “growing need for additional MSC Cruises ships in [North America].”
MSC Cruises’ 12-ship fleet is the youngest in the world and is based year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in the French Antilles, northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa, South America, and Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. MSC Cruises currently sails seasonally in the Caribbean, but will sail year-round from Miami from 2017 onwards.
Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard is a world leader in cruise ship construction and one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups, in addition to the two Seaside-class cruise ships ordered, the cruise line has an option for one more ship.
Following the delivery of MSC Seaside from the shipyard, she will make her way to Miami for MSC Cruises’ first ever christening ceremony in the United States, which is due to take place in late 2017. Itinerary details and a launch date for the second Seaside-class cruise ship have not been announced.
With a gross tonnage of 154,000 gross tons and the ability to accommodate up to 4,140 guests at double capacity, MSC Seaside will be the largest cruise ship ever built by Fincantieri and will put her in the same tonnage range as Carnival Vista, which is also being built by Fincantieri and due to be delivered in April 2016.
MSC Seaside will be 10,000-gross tons smaller than Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum-class cruise ships and Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Breakaway-Plus Class cruise ships Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss. Escape has been confirmed for a year-round cruise program out of Miami from October, 2015.