MSC Seaside to begin Florida cruising this week

MSC is keen to step up its cruise footprint in North America with the debut of MSC Seaside in Miami this week.

The ship built specifically for year-round Caribbean service by the European-based cruise line will have its naming ceremony Thursday night that includes appearances by godmother and Italian actress Sophia Loren, former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, master or ceremonies Mario Lopez and performances by Ricky Martin and tenor Andrea Bocelli.

While MSC has sailed one of its newer ships MSC Divina from Miami since 2013, MSC Seaside will be the first ship the cruise line has debuted in North America.

The 153,516-ton ship that can hold 4,140 guests at double capacity is also the largest the line has ever sailed stateside, although another new ship, MSC Meraviglia, which is currently the largest in MSC’s fleet, will make its way to Florida in 2019.

In the meantime, MSC Seaside will sail alongside MSC Divina from Miami through the winter season, marking the first time the company has invested such passenger capacity out of the state.

The new ship has a design that stands out from other ships sailing from Florida, most notably its large open aft deck, which is part of the wraparound waterfront promenade. Much like the rest of the MSC fleet, the ship sports what could be called an Italian flair with lots of reflective surfaces, but with a modern feel.

The ship promises one of the largest water parks at sea, this one with five slides including one that is part-slide, part-video game. The 1,059-foot-long, 134-foot-wide ship's design also features 463,000 square feet of public space, a double-deck atrium with glass walls offering views of the ocean, and the line's largest ship-within-a-ship concept, the MSC Yacht Club, which offers a private lounge, pool and solarium.

Restaurants include Asian Market Kitchen by celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi as well as a quicker service eatery called Teppanyaki. A total of nine dining options also include Ocean Cay Restaurant, Butcher's Cut, Bistrot La Bohème and The Biscayne Bay Buffet & Pizzeria.

The ship will sail alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries with some inside cabins starting at around $500 a person, based on double occupancy.

More information on the ship can be found at

Craig Bixel