Sign Up for Our Monthly Family Getaways Newsletter
My two boys have been on numerous cruises, so they understand the basic concept of traveling on a ship: Spend time in the pool, hang out in nice lounges, and eat great food in between port stops.
However, these experiences were on small ships with around 300 people, a few restaurants and a maximum pool capacity of four.
So to say my kids were surprised when boarding MSC Cruises’ 5,179-passenger MSC Seaside would be an understatement.
“Mom, this ship has four pools and two ziplines!” my older son announced after embarkation. (To me, this meant: “Mom, why has it taken us so long to experience a ship like this?”)
Seaside is a mega-ship masterpiece. It boasts the two longest ziplines at sea (345 feet each), which begin at the ship’s funnel, soar over the sports arena and Miami Beach Pool and feature panoramic scenes 20 decks above the ocean.
But views aren’t limited to the ziplines. Guests can catch more stunning vistas on the ship’s three unique outdoor glass catwalks: Two are located on either side of Deck 8, and a third (named The Bridge of Sighs) is a 131-foot-high, glass-bottom bridge located on Deck 16.
The vessel, which first launched in December 2017 and is billed as “the ship that follows the sun,” sails year-round jaunts from Miami to the Caribbean. It is the first of an innovative generation of ships that are inspired by the design and architecture of an elegant South Florida beach condo.
“Seaside is truly a sun-lover’s paradise, made for warm-weather climates with an industry-first architecture that’s designed to bring people outdoors to enjoy the sea,” said Ken Muskat, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MSC Cruises USA. “Of course, families will love hanging out by the pool and soaking up the sun, but there are also plenty of activities to keep them busy.”
The ship includes a double-deck Forest Aquaventure Park with waterslides — including one with Slideboarding technology combined with an interactive video game — and a play area with a splash zone for younger children. My kids loved the high-speed waterslides that extend over the side of the ship for a portion of the ride, offering supreme ocean views.
Indoors, the heart of the ship boasts two exquisite features: a multilevel atrium and a Swarovski crystal staircase. There’s also a wealth of activity spaces, including the 934-guest Metropolitan Theatre with Broadway-style performances, an XD Cinema, shopping venues, a state-of-the-art gym, Aurea Spa and a full-size two-lane bowling alley with arcade games. (Many activities can be bundled with the cruise fare on FunPass, the ship’s “all-access pass.”)
The ship also has buffet and specialty dining options, including Asian Market Kitchen from celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, along with multiple bars and lounges.
Additionally, the ship’s modular, connected staterooms are perfect for families and large groups, allowing up to 10 people to stay in three connecting staterooms.
The best part? The company’s Kids Cruise Free program means kids 11 and under sail free year-round.
Seaside also offers five kids’ clubs for infants to teenagers. As a part of an exclusive partnership with Lego, MSC Cruises offers the blocks to guests ages 3 to 11. (The Lego-themed kids’ clubs are available on several ships, as well as on future newbuilds.)
“Partnering with Lego was the perfect complement to our multinational guest base because the iconic building blocks are universal,” Muskat said. “Our goal is to not only give children of all ages a fun and memorable vacation, but also an opportunity to be enriched by connecting and learning from kids from all over the world.”
When my family wasn’t busy on the ship — eating, playing music trivia or sampling goodies at Venchi Cioccogelateria and Coffee Bar — we were enjoying shore excursions. Some included visiting the gentle giants of Stingray City on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; floating along the Underground Rivers of Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico; and — the clear family favorite — climbing up the coursing rapids of the famous Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
“Mom and Dad, come here and pose together,” our guide at the falls in Jamaica commanded my husband and me one day. “Now, hug her and give her a kiss.”
As my husband did, the guide pushed us — in our clumsy embrace — into a rock pool behind us, which our boys especially enjoyed.
Indeed, Seaside achieved its goal in providing a fun-filled vacation for the whole family.
The DetailsMSC Cruiseswww.msccruisesusa.com