One of the great perks of doing the job that I do is that, periodically, I get the opportunity to test-drive some amazing new hardware. Last weekend was just such an occasion when I had the pleasure to experience MSC’s latest super ship — Seaview — in Genoa. It’s not the largest cruise ship in the world (it’s 14th actually), but it is very cleverly designed and exhibits the usual Italian flair for style, elegance and originality. The other thing that was significant about the 48 hours I spent aboard was how good the food has become! The quality is better; the menu’s more diverse and the portion sizes rival anything that you get on American cruise lines used to catering for larger American appetites.
Being an Italian-owned company, MSC have always prided themselves on catering for families with extremely competitive cruise fares; generous discounts for families and cabin arrangements that allow extended families to block off up to three adjacent and interconnecting staterooms. Their kid’s clubs are excellent and cater for every possible age group and are all manned by qualified staff. Indeed, their kid’s facilities in general are more than enough to rival any such facilities to be found on land.
Along with its sister ship Seaside which was launched late last year, the design of Seaview (particularly at the rear of the ship) creates the illusion of a South Beach Florida high rise hotel or apartment block where you look down onto a pool area surrounded by ample sundecks. Indeed, Seaview and her sibling enjoy the highest ratio of outdoor space per passenger of any cruise ship afloat so if you suffer a bit from claustrophobia then perhaps these ships are for you!
Like all modern cruise vessels, Seaview boasts all the usual attractions such as specialty dining, large theatre, spa area, casino, impressive water slides and outdoor play areas and pools and adds a few ‘extras’ such as the Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar which chocoholics will just adore; the aptly named ‘Bridge of Sighs’ located on Deck 21 which is not for anyone who suffers from Vertigo as it features see-through glass panels that you walk across and which overlook the Sunset Beach pool located at the back of the ship, way down on Deck 7. Unique though to people who cruise with MSC is the ship-within-a-ship concept known as Yacht Club where guests have exclusive use and access to their own subset of pools, specialty restaurants and other facilities.
Joggers and keep-fit types are well catered for on both Deck 8 where the Waterfront Boardwalk is located and in the MSC Technogym which is fitted out with all the latest ‘gear’ to exercise every muscle in your body (including some you didn’t even know you had!). Oh, and there’s a full-size basketball court up within the MSC Sports Arena on Deck 17. Kids and adults alike will love the Forest Aquaventure Park located one deck up on Deck 18.
For sheer visual impressiveness though, you can’t beat the Atrium area, located midship and spanning three whole decks where large, high definition screens provide a multimedia experience and where bands regularly entertain guests during the many parties and events that are held there throughout each cruise. Access to each of the three levels is made via Swarovski-bejewelled staircases that have become synonymous with MSC ships and the whole ‘spectacle’ (for that is what it is) is finished off with an impressive curving bar on the lowest level which runs the whole width of the Atrium area.
The ship boasts innumerable bars throughout its superstructure but the one which stands out because of its classy styling is the appropriately-named Champagne which serves — yes, you’ve guessed it! — all manners of champagne!
Seaview is now effectively the flag bearer for European ship design and will, without doubt, along with its slightly older twin, Seaside, give the Americans a run for their money!