We at JR World Travel like MSC and what they have to offer. Did you know that at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, they’ve been busy constructing the first in a brand new class of cruise ships for MSC Cruises. The ship is the MSC Seaside and construction should be complete in November of 2017. She’ll be coming across the Atlantic Ocean and beginning year round Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of the Port of Miami beginning in December. She’s got an innovative new design… similar in some ways to the Carnival Vista which was made at the same ship yard… Like this aft pool set down near the water on one of the lower decks. She also reminds me a lot of some of the newest ships from Norwegian Cruise Line. But she also incorporates a few new features that none of the other cruise lines have yet… Like a glass elevator at the back end of the ship with incredible views to the rear and great views of this big beautiful aft pool area. Of course, there are many fun design features like a massive waterpark and Adventure area…
With five different water slides, including one that’s interactive… using lights, music, and something they call SlideBoarding technology. But just keep in mind that the MSC Seaside is still under construction… so, photos and videos of the completed ship simply don’t exist yet. But by using artist’s renderings provided by MSC I think I can give you a peek in to what’s so special about the MSC Seaside. Now, MSC is a European-based cruise line and not very well-known in the United States yet… but they want to be! They’re offering some bargain-price fares on cruises out of Miami. While some of the big cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have been steadily increasing their prices over the last few years… MSC prices are quite a bit lower than the competition. A smart thing that MSC is doing to try to steal American passengers away from the big cruise lines is to offer a loyalty match program. Let’s say you’ve done a bunch of cruises with Royal Caribbean and now you’re platinum with Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program.
That gets you perks on Royal Caribbean like priority boarding, and an invitation to their top-tier cocktail party with the Captain. The whole reason that a cruise line has a loyalty program with perks like that is to try to lock-in the most frequent cruisers. When you get used to having things like priority boarding you’re reluctant to try some new cruise line where you’re starting at the bottom again and don’t have those perks. But to try to steal away the most frequent cruisers from the other cruise lines, MSC has a loyalty match program. So, in my case I’ve done a total of 40 cruises over the years and 26 of them were with Carnival… Putting me in the second highest tier of Carnival’s loyalty program. So, even though I’ve never cruised with MSC before, MSC has agreed to match my Carnival loyalty status on my very first cruise with MSC and any others that follow.
The Austin Powers fan inside me had a good laugh when my travel agent told me that I’m now a “Gold Member” on MSC! On MSC’s web site you can view the complete list of all the benefits in the various levels of their loyalty program… but I’ll tell you right now that the most valuable one is the 5 percent discount on the published cruise fare that they offer to every level of their loyalty program except the newbies.
And if you’re in the silver, gold, or black levels they may even offer a greater than 5 percent discount… up to as high as 15% on some of the cruises that they’re having trouble filling. Also, for the silver, gold, and black levels a $50 onboard credit per person. So, in the case of my wife and I and our upcoming first cruise with MSC… We ended up getting about a $180 discount off of the cruise price that’s posted on MSC’s web site.
Plus a $100 onboard credit just for being platinum in Carnival’s loyalty program. But it’s a smart business move by MSC because it’s a great way to motivate the loyal customers of other cruise lines to try MSC instead. I mentioned earlier that there are some similarities between the MSC Seaside and some of the newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships. The biggest one is an exclusive VIP area of the ship walled off from the regular passengers with its own pool, Jacuzzis, restaurant, and bar… And where every VIP passenger has a butler and a concierge. On Norwegian, they call that “The Haven”.
On MSC it’s known as “the Yacht Club”. Now, I’ve cruised in Norwegian’s Haven three different times, so far and have two more Haven cruises coming up in the next year or two… so I’m a big fan of the concept. And when I started researching the MSC Seaside, I pretty much assumed that I’d want to get a cabin within the Yacht Club. The one that really caught my eye was the Royal Suite, because it’s got a private Jacuzzi on the balcony. It’s the biggest, most expensive cabin on the ship… and for the week I was looking at booking would have cost about $900 a night. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked into the prices of the fanciest suites on some of the other cruise lines. What Royal Caribbean gets for their fanciest suites is like highway robbery! The prices are outrageous! So the Royal Suite, at about $900 a night at certain times of the year, really is a bargain in the world of luxury cruising. But I don’t really need all that room in the cabin because I don’t cruise with kids and grandkids. It’s just me and the wife. And I don’t need a butler.
Sure, it’s great to have one… but we don’t NEED it. The one unusual thing that the Royal Suite has that really would be worth my wife and I paying the big bucks for is that private Jacuzzi out on the balcony. We’ve had that once before out of all of our 40 previous cruises… One amazing suite that had its own Jacuzzi on the balcony and it was great! We LOVED it! And we want that again… but as inexpensively as possible. And the reason I’m so excited about the MSC Seaside is that it’s the one cruise ship out of all the cruise ships in the entire world… where they offer a NOT-incredibly-expensive suite with a whirlpool tub on the balcony. In fact, there’s 28 of them on the MSC Seaside! Officially, they’re known as a “Suite With Whirlpool Bath”. If you take a look at the deck plans you’ll find them on all seven decks between decks 9 and 15. There’s four of them on each of those decks: Two near the forward elevators and two near the aft elevators on each of those seven decks.
Let’s zoom in a little closer to help you identify their location on the deck plans. See how these particular decks are wider at midship and narrower at the forward and aft ends. I’ll put arrows in to direct your attention to the areas of the ship that I’m talking about… where the width of that section of the ship changes. And that’s where you’ll find the suites that have the whirlpool tubs on the balconies. See the one cabin on each side that’s an orangish reddish color on the deck plans with a little wave symbol.
Those are the ones! Let’s go to a close-up view of deck 14 so you can see it even better. And to really emphasize my point, I’ve tweaked the deck plans myself to show where the whirlpool tubs would be on the balconies. Those little blue ovals that I’ve added are as best I can tell from my research, representative of where those tubs would be on the actual balconies. Now, I direct your attention to cabin 14063 over there on the left side. Look at how much larger that cabin is then most of the other cabins nearby. For example, 14059… light green color on the interior of the ship That’s an interior cabin…
No balcony or even windows. It’s only got 151 square feet of space inside. Look over to the left of that, at 14057… a standard balcony cabin. That’s got 183 square feet of interior space. But the whirlpool suite, cabin 14063, has over 300 square feet of space… so, it’s a lot bigger than the neighbors. OK, so, there’s 28 of these cabins spread over the 7 decks… and I think 14 of them may have a very bad flaw! I think that the 14 that are near the forward end of the ship are going to be windy when the ship is at sea. With the ship in motion, I think there’s going to be some nasty wind out on those balconies.
Let me add some arrows to illustrate how I bet the wind will be blowing when the ship is cruising at sea. I don’t think sitting in any of those 14 forward-facing Jacuzzis is going to be all that great when the ship is in motion. So, for my money, I’d say it’s a much better bet to book one of the other 14 whirlpool suites… the ones that are located near the aft end of the ship… Because I think those might be a little bit wind protected due to the way the width of the ship tapers in that area. So, for my wife and I, I’ve booked cabin 14211. Now remember, the MSC Seaside is still under construction…
So I can’t offer an actual photograph of what our suite will look like. But here’s an artist’s concept: The purple color scheme doesn’t do much for me, but… I’m pretty sure that when I’m sitting in that whirlpool tub out on the balcony, I won’t have a care in the world. Earlier this year, we stayed in the Owner’s Suite on Norwegian Pearl so that we’d have our own private Jacuzzi on our balcony. $1600 a night for that cabin… and I actually didn’t mind paying it because it was the best cruise experience I had ever had out of 40 cruises. So you can imagine my delight when I booked the whirlpool suite on MSC Seaside for only $575 a night. And THAT is how you get someone who is pretty loyal to one cruise line to try MSC instead! Now, these 28 whirlpool suites on the MSC Seaside come with some perks, too. The spa onboard the MSC Seaside is known as the Aurea spa… And when you book one of these 28 whirlpool suites, you get what’s known as the Aurea spa experience. It includes a spa package including a massage of your choice from the spa menu up to an hour in length.
And free access to the thermal area of the spa throughout the cruise. And if that wasn’t enough, you also get an all-inclusive drink package for alcoholic or soft drinks for the length of the cruise. So, those are some pretty nice little perks for folks willing to book one of these suites. Of course, there are many different types of cabins onboard the MSC Seaside… From basic interior cabins that cost as little as $1,000 per couple for a 7-night cruise…
To ocean-view cabins… Balcony cabins… Suites… and incredible VIP suites with butler service in the MSC Yacht Club. And if you’ve ever sailed on a slightly older cruise ship… let’s say one that was built ten years ago… You’ll be really impressed when you get onboard a state-of-the-art brand-new ship like the MSC Seaside. There’ll be multiple electrical outlets in the cabins… USB charging ports… And from what I hear… much better Internet access speeds than you might have had on previous cruises on other cruise ships. In fact, MSC is spending tens of millions of dollars just on the technology aspects of this one new ship. It’s going to have something new called “MSC For Me”… Which is a whole suite of state-of-the-art cruise ship technology designed to help personalize your cruise experience and which will allow your smartphone to be much more useful than it is on most cruise ships…
For finding out what there is to do… figuring out where things are located… making reservations… and keeping track of your daily schedule. And with a smart bracelet on your wrist, staff members will know who you are and what your preferences are. Disney has tried some of this stuff… Royal Caribbean has tried some of this same stuff… Princess is just now unveiling something similar. I think some lessons have been learned along the way… so it’ll be real interesting to see how MSC’s version works out. I’m Jim Zim… very excited about cruising on MSC Seaside in 2018! And when I get back, you can be sure that there’ll be a full write-up on my web site at JimZim.net about how the cruise worked out for us…
what surprised us… and whether we’ll be cruising with MSC again! For now, I’ll leave you with suggestions for a couple of my other cruise-related videos that I think you might enjoy watching..
JR World Travel
As found on Youtube