MSC Seaview is a different class of ship for MSC Cruises, from her outward-facing, outdoor living design and entertainment line-up, to her zip-lines and glass skywalks – and she’s cruising roundtrip from Dubai for the 2020/21 season.
MSC Seaview is the second of a new class of cruise ship for MSC Cruises, the Seaside-class, also the most innovative class of ship launched by MSC Cruises, complete with a waterpark, adventure course, al fresco spa treatments and Miami-style condo staterooms. This is because it is the first class that the Italian cruise line has designed specifically for the North American cruise market.
The Seaside-class are different to any other MSC cruise ships that has come before, with new entertainment and dining concepts, a larger MSC Yacht Club, family and penthouse suites, a waterpark with three slides, a huge promenade that extends outward at the stern to create a condo feel, and panoramic outward-facing elevators.
That’s just scratching the surface, but it gives a sense of the new approach that MSC Cruises took to the design of this class of ship, which was built specifically with Caribbean and Mediterranean cruising in mind. For this reason, she features an amazing array of outdoor spaces, more than what you’ll find on any other class of cruise ship in the MSC Cruises fleet.
The Miami condo-style staterooms at the stern overlooking the wake have huge balconies, there are aft-facing panoramic lifts here too, and down on the boat deck on that extended aft deck, there’s a pool area with plenty of sunbeds. To port and starboard, the extra-wide promenade offers ocean-front bars and eateries like Norwegian’s Breakaway-Plus class.
Even below decks, MSC has tried to keep passengers connected to the ocean. A spectacular four-deck atrium sits at the centre of the ship with floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides of two of those decks, and a set of three giant LED screens that showcase things like plant life and jellyfish on a rotating basis. In front of each screen is a small balcony that serves as a venue for musical and acrobatic performances.
MSC have also taken a page out of the book of the Big Three cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian) with cutting edge passenger technology throughout the ship. There are MSC for Me touchpoints that allow passengers to navigate through the ship, view daily schedules, and make dinner and show reservations. The system can also be accessed via cabin TVs and the MSC for Me mobile app. And passengers are given bracelets instead of cruise cards so that purchases can be made hands-free, and cabin doors can be opened with RFID scanning.
MSC Cruises has always been a cruise line whose strength lies in providing a cruise experience that can cater to multiple nationalities – it’s proudly and undeniably Italian, but loved by Europeans and North Americans alike (as well as its niche South African and Brazilian cruise markets) – primarily because of its diverse entertainment line-up.
Aboard Seaview this continues with different 30- to 35-minute production shows every night, featuring acts that include acrobats, magicians, comedians and dancers. The 944-seat Odeon Theater (decks 6 and 7 forward) is where these shows are held every night of the cruise, as well as enrichment, such as port lectures during the day. It also serves as the primary meeting point for shore excursions.
When it comes to dining, MSC have made a real effort to step up their game to compete with the Big Three and there’s a wide variety of eateries aboard the ship. There are two main dining rooms, two buffets and three specialty restaurants (one of which offers three separate experiences). MSC has also partnered with Italian chocolatier Venchi to bring passengers a la carte gelato, chocolate by the pound and Italian hot chocolate.
Entertainment aboard MSC Seaview
MSC Seaview is a ship with a split personality between the day and night. Rising early, there are fitness classes in the gym, aerobics on the pool deck as the sun comes up, and from mid-morning onwards there’s dance classes, audience-participation games and bingo in the Haven Lounge (Deck 7 aft). Around the ship there are all sorts of other events and activities, from shopping promotions (MSC Cruises hold these almost every day) and sports tournaments to trivia and pool parties (on sea days).
In terms of unscheduled fun, there are a range of options to choose from, especially in the large amusement arcade on Deck 7, with its own full-size bowling alley, F1 race car simulator, interactive cinema with three different movie games and wide range of arcade games. All of these come at an extra cost though, and if you pay as you go it can add up quickly, but a Fun Pass is available and offers a set amount of onboard credit for gaming.
Also on Deck 7 is the small library, which rather oddly contains a billiards table. It’s a nice quite space in which to relax and enjoy a round or two, but billiards or pool is always more fun with a drink or two – although can take your beverage of choice with you into the library from the nearby Haven Lounge Bar. Pay-as-you-go prices for the cinema, bowling, F1 simulator and billiards are on the high side, but not too far removed from comparative activities on land in Dubai: 10 euros for 15 minutes of pool, 10 euros for one round on the F1 simulator, 10 euros for the 4D cinema and 40 euros an hour for bowling.
While on the subject of blowing money. The Platinum Casino occupies much of the forward part of Deck 7, just behind the theatre, and is a throughflow for getting to or from the theatre and other parts of the ship. There are 147 slot machines and 12 gaming tables for roulette, poker and blackjack; as well as electronic gaming. During the day and night events and promotions such as Lotto and free chips are held here. As with any cruise ship casino, there’s a central bar and in true MSC tradition, smoking is allowed here if you’re playing.
Throughout the day aboard MSC Seaview there is music and dancing, but at night most of the entertainment is live music, and the dance classes partaken during the day can be put into practice. The social heart of the ship is the striking three-deck atrium, where a live band plays every night from a recessed stage above the bar. The Haven Lounge, Shine Bar and Seaside Lounge also feature live music at night and during certain times there’s a band on the pool deck, where scheduled pool parties from White Night and (on a Dubai cruise) Arabian Nights are held during the cruise.
Bars and lounges aboard MSC Seaview
There are 14 bars and lounges aboard MSC Seaview (but two of them, the Yacht Club Bar & Lounge and Yacht Club Bar) are only for the use of MSC Yacht Club guests.
As is the case aboard all MSC Cruises ships, the Yacht Club Bar & Lounge aboard MSC Seaview is easily the most beautiful lounge lounge aboard the ship. Occupying the full beam forward on Deck 18, it has views to rival the captains through double-height glass windows and there’s waiter service and various snacks available throughout the day. The Yacht Club Bar is a separate area that is also only open to Yacht Club passengers and services the private sun deck.
Unfortunately there’s no forward observation lounge for everyone else, but MSC Seaview makes up for it with a wide range of other options.
Seaview Bar (Atrium, Deck 5) is a semi-circular bar amidships on the lowest passenger deck. It’s a great space for people watching and whiling away the time while you get shipboard chores done, as its on the same level as guest services and reception and nearby to shore excursions. You can also get coffee here from early on in the morning, as well as a tempting selection of pastries and other snacks.
One deck up (Deck 6) near the Venchi chocolatier is the Shine Bar, with seating arranged a small stage where relaxing ‘unplugged’ style live music is performed in the evenings. Another deck up (Deck 7) is the most elegant bar aboard the ship (apart from the Yacht Club of course) – the Champagne Bar, which commands prime views over the atrium and its live music.
Because of this, it gets very busy in the evening before dinner and after the evening theatre performances. There are stools at the bar, and plenty of chairs and tables with very good table service. Champagne Bar sits amidships on Deck 7, the main entertainment deck. On this deck you’ll also find the Haven Lounge – the main indoor events and activities space, with a bar at one end, a stage and a dance floor in the center, with plenty of chairs and tables dotted around. There are also some high tables against the walls with barstools for better views of the band and dancing when its busy.
This lounge almost always has something on the go as it’s a throughflow between the atrium and the Sunset Beach Bar at the stern of the ship and the Billiards Room and Games Arcade to port. The Sunset Beach Bar serves the Sunset Beach Pool that overlooks the ship’s wake, there’s seating to port and starboard, but the smoking area is to port, along with the bar itself.
On most evenings, there’s a DJ providing a Miami-style beach party soundtrack and it can get busy from sunset until late. Directly forward of this bar on the port side is the Garage Club – a 1950’s diner-themed area adjoining the games arcade. There’s a dancefloor, neon everywhere, a classic car that does double duty as a DJ booth and its open until the last revelers leave in the early hours of the morning.
As you might have already guessed, Deck 7 is the party deck aboard this unashamedly party-focused ship. But, heading one deck up and past the atrium you’ll find the Seaside Lounge – named after the class of ships to which MSC Seaview belongs.
It’s a great spot for relaxing and having a coffee during the day, with plenty of sofas, plush chairs and low tables where you can read a book, play some cards or catch up on some blogging. In the evening the Seaside Lounge turns into a jazz club, and because it has outdoor seating and a smoking area, it’s a safe choice for groups that include smokers and non-smokers.
This lounge has fantastic views through floor-to-ceiling curving glass windows, but so does the Sports Bar directly opposite it to starboard. Unlike the Sports Bar aboard MSC Splendida (currently homeporting in Dubai), this bar has a much more upmarket feel – so while there are a plethora of screens showing sports events from all over the world, and a liberal use of chrome and glass, there are also beanbags scattered around and booths with their own TV sets.
The bar has direct access onto the promenade deck and there are 12 different types of draft beer, craft beers, stout ale and ciders; as well as bottles and cans. Karaoke also takes place here on most evenings.
That’s it for the bars and lounges on the ship’s two main entertainment decks, heading up to Deck 16 via the aft panoramic lifts you’ll find the Panorama Bar directly forward of the Bridge of Sighs and Ocean Point Buffet & Restaurant (more on that later). The Panorama Bar is the main bar for the pool area – it serves frozen cocktails, beer and wines throughout the day.
Heading further forward and up to Deck 18 there’s a Jungle Beach Bar within the solarium, serving the indoor/outdoor Jungle Beach pool area and further forward still and up another deck is the Aurea Bar, a private space for passengers who have booked the Aurea experience.
It services the Top 19 Exclusive Solarium. On this deck you’ll also find the Miramar Bar all the way aft. It has a great view of the wake and stern pool area, but because it’s quite secluded it tends to remain quiet even during the peak hours.
Dining aboard MSC Seaview
MSC Cruises does specialty dining really well, but the free dining options can be a little more variable, and MSC Seaview is no exception, but there are certain Italian staples that are always a safe bet, from pizza and pasta to seafood and classic Italian deserts like Tiramisu and Panna Cotta.
All the ship’s specialty restaurants are clustered forward on Deck 16 (offering French, seafood, steak and Asian fusion/sushi), with the Ocean Point Buffet & Restaurant occupying the stern on the same deck.
Like the Marketplace Restaurant & Buffet on Deck 8, Ocean Point is free and is open from early in the morning until late at night with a ceaseless variety of foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, neither buffet ever feels particularly crowded because there are two and they’re both massive.
Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner and late-night pizza are also served in the two main dining rooms Golden Sand (Deck 5) and Silver Dolphin (Deck 6). They both occupy the full stern area of both these decks and are differentiated only by their décor, which matches their names. The menus in both are near identical.
Golden Sand is usually open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while Silver Dolphin only opens for the dinner service, but this can change so double check the daily program. At Golden Sand you don’t have to eat at a set table, you can just turn up whenever you want, but at Silver Dolphin dinner is served at 5:45pm, 7:30pm and 9:30pm. While the extra choice of dining time gives passengers more flexibility, it also adds a certain urgency to the evening meal as the wait staff rush through the courses and prep for the next seating.
There’s also room service as a dining option, but only breakfast is free. Room service is available 24 hours and contains options like pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and salads. Breakfast (Continental) includes yogurt, cereal, pastries, toast, jam and coffee, hot chocolate, tea and juice. There’s a 3 euro charge for delivery of one item, 5 euros for two, and so on upward as you order more items.
If you’re a MSY Yacht Club guest, you can dine in the complimentary MSC Yacht Club Restaurant on Deck 18 overlooking the Yacht Club’s Top Sail Lounge on the deck below. The food here is on-par with the ship’s specialty restaurants, its almost universally excellent and the menu changes every day, with five starter options and four mains.
That’s it for the complimentary dining options on-board. To sample the extra-charge specialty dining venues aboard MSC Seaview, head to Deck 16, where there are three of them (as well as the Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar and Creperie on Deck 6 and the Bistrot L’Atelier on Deck 8).
The Asian Market Kitchen on Deck 16 has no set charge per head, with a la carte pricing instead. Created by Roy Yamaguchi, it features three Asian dining options — Kaito Teppanyaki; a sushi bar; and Fusion, a restaurant serving Hawaiian-influenced pan-Asian cuisine. Fusion does lunch and dinner, while Teppanyaki is only open in the evening.
Ocean Cay next door has a 49 euro all you can eat price per head, or a la carte pricing. Created by two-Michelin-star Spanish chef Ramon Freixa, it debuted aboard MSC Seaside and is a popular seafood spot. For this reason reservations are required for dinner, but not for lunch.
Then there’s Butcher’s Cut, which has a 39 euro all you can eat price per head, or a la carte pricing. It doesn’t have a renowned chef associated with it, but first debuted aboard MSC Meraviglia and has proven extremely popular. It’s a classic American steakhouse serving prime cut steak and chops as well as a few non-red meat dishes, and in true American style the portions are mammoth.
Finally, down on Deck 6, 7 and 8 are the Venchi chocolatier and Bistrot L’Atelier. Venchi is split in two, amidships off the atrium is Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar, with a large bar where you can grab a coffee and watch the master chocolatiers creating Hiccup in “How to Train Your Dragon” to Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It also sells gelato, milk shakes and even chocolate-based cocktails. On Deck 7 aft is the outdoor Venchi 1878 Gelato & Creperie, where you can get scoops of gelato, crepes, coffees and milkshakes from 10am to 10pm.
Up on deck is Bistrot L’Atelier, which looks the part of a French bistro but sits on the atrium so suffers from passing traffic as well as the noise from the atrium entertainers and bands. This is great if you want the upbeat atmosphere, but not a good option for a romantic dinner. It might work well as a lunch venue, but is unfortunately only open for dinner, when the atrium is at its busiest.
Pools & Outdoor activities aboard MSC Seaview
There are two open air pools aboard MSC Seaview, and a third that’s covered by a retractable magrodome roof – a fourth pool area up on Deck 18 is only for the MSC Yacht Club passengers.
Up on Deck 16 you’ll find the main pool area, the Panorama Pool, where there’s loads of sunbeds and a large pool with a raised dais where the White Night, Arabian Night (on Arabian Gulf itineraries) and Sail Away parties are held. A large screen shows movies in the evenings and music videos during the day.
The Panorama Bar serves drinks and the Marketplace Buffet is nearby for a sun-tanning to stuffing you face segway. This pool area is open to all ages, including the three whirlpools, but down on Deck 7, also aft, the Sunset Beach Pool is for adult’s only (adult’s being 16 years old and up).
It sits directly below the Bridge of Sighs and the Miami-style condo apartments and glass elevators, so it’s a bit more of a posers pool, with a limited number of loungers due to the smaller space and a smaller pool overlooking the wake.
It seems odd that MSC Cruises chose not to make this pool an infinity pool given its great location, but what it lacks in form it makes up for with the Venchi Gelateria and Creperie nearby and the Sunset Beach Bar.
Up on Deck 18 is the Jungle Pool and Jungle Beach Bar. This whole area can be covered by a retractable magrodome roof in inclement weather, and is likely to therefore become rather crowded during the colder weeks of the Arabian Gulf winter. There are two whirlpools here and a lounge area with colorful chairs, foosball and Ping-Pong tables.
On the ship’s highest deck, Deck 20, you’ll find the Sports Arena, where you can play football (soccer) and basketball and other sports. It’s often used for outdoor games and competitions by the nearby kids club.
Down below on Deck 18 is the Forest Aquaventure Park, with easy access from the kids club and a wading pool for children that contains water cannons and fountains, and a rope bridge suspended over the park. There are also four water slides for children and adults alike, a standard water slide, two “racing” slides and a slide for slideboarding.
The ship’s two ziplines, the longest at sea (along with MSC Seaside’s) are accessible from Deck 20 and take riders over the sports court and Panorama Beach Pool area, ending on Deck 18 forward. There’s a 10 euro charge per go. If you want the thrill of height, but without having to pay, take a stroll along the Bridge of Sighs, a suspended glass walkway that arches above the Sunset Beach Pool nine decks below.
Spa & Fitness aboard MSC Seaview
The spa aboard MSC Seaview is huge and is open from 9am to 9pm daily. While all the Aurea spas in the MSC fleet are topnotch, the 26,000sqft, 23 treatment room one aboard Seaview is particularly impressive. There’s even a couples treatment room, and four private outdoor cabana areas with hot tubs.
The spa also features a thermal suite with snow room, thalassotherapy pool, two steam rooms (one dark, one light), two saunas, a Himalayan salt room, an aromatherapy room, a Hamman, a relaxation room and an outdoor hot tub.
French hair stylist Jean Louis David has a beauty salon as part of the spa offering, and next-door there’s a gentleman’s barber shop.
Adjacent to the spa is the ship’s gym (open from 6am to 10pm), and it’s also huge at 9,300sqft. It features state-of-the-art Technogym equipment from treadmills, rowers and bikes to an array of weights and exercise mats, and plenty of private space to do your own thing. There’s even a punching bag and a number of weight machines.
Kids & Teens facilities aboard MSC Seaview
MSC Cruises has paid a lot of attention to the needs of cruising families in the design of its newer ships. Like MSC Meraviglia, and MSC Seaside (sister ship to Seaview), there are dedicated facilities and daily programming for all age groups on this ship.
There are also family-friendly staterooms, with bunk beds, extra storage and larger balconies. Some staterooms can also be joined together in a cluster of two or three for larger groups.
And while there is no babysitting offered in the cabins themselves, passengers can drop off kids in the Baby Club from 11pm until 2am if they’re at least a year old. There are also plenty of baby products available thanks to the line’s partnership with Chicco.
You’ll find the kids club, Doremi Land (named after one of the line’s numerous mascots), high up on Deck 18, toward the back of the ship. It consists of four age-specific rooms — Baby Club (0–3 years); Mini Club (3–6 years), Junior Club (7–11) and Young Club (12–14).
The older teens (15–17) also get a separate room, though this is often combined with the Young Club.
Kids aged up to 6 years get a red bracelet upon registration with a barcode that stores details of the child (date of embarkation, age, allergies, etc.). They are not allowed to come and go from the club without a parent or guardian present.
The 7- to 11-year-olds get a green bracelet, which means parents can decide if they are allowed in and out without being signed out. Tweens and teens come and go as they please.
Staterooms aboard MSC Seaside
Like the staterooms aboard most ships in the MSC Cruises fleet, MSC Seaview keeps the different categories fairly simple with four basic differences in cabin choice: there are interior cabins, oceanview or exterior, balcony cabins and suites.
This is apart from the 14 dedicated Family Cabins that overlook the Sunset Beach Bar and pool area at the stern and have larger balconies and bathrooms for family groups.
Many of the ship’s cabins are wheelchair accessible (five suites in the MSC Yacht Club, and 47 cabins across interior, ocean view and balcony categories) and several hundred are classed as family cabins because they have interconnecting doors between them.
Almost three quarters of MSC Seaview’s 2,017 cabins are either oceanview, balcony or suites and the overriding theme throughout is modern, minimalist style.
There are colour variations, but the colours are predominantly muted with a dash of something bright, like deep purple against brown. All cabins have USB ports by the bed, fully interactive TV, keycard-controlled power and the sofas convert into bunk beds for third and fourth person sharing.
There are 411 inside cabins, which includes the 12 in the MSC Yacht Club. The standard ones are 150 to 300sqft, while the Yacht Club ones are around 226sqft. The inside cabins in the Yacht Club are great value for money when you factor in the private lounge, dining room, pool, sun deck and hot tubs.
The 80 outside cabins are each 183sqft and are located on the ship’s lower decks. They have large recessed portholes creating a window seat with a cushion that’s ideal for kids. This category, though the same square footage as the balcony cabin, is long and thin rather than square. The ensuite bathroom is exactly the same.
The 1,312 balcony cabins make up the bulk of the stateroom offerings aboard MSC Seaview. They range in size from 172sqft to 269sqft and include a 54sqft balcony with two chairs and a small table. Some of these cabins have bathtubs as well as showers.
The greatest variation between staterooms comes in the suite category, within which there are six different types. There are standard suites, grand and wellness suites and Jacuzzi suites outside the MSC Yacht Club, and within the luxury enclave there are Interior, Deluxe and Royal.
All suites, regardless of location have bathtubs and balconies and all include bathrobes for use on the ship and additional MSC Med-branded toiletry items including shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and shower gel.
Standard Suites are 183sqft to 301sqft with a 97sqft balcony. There are two loungers out here, two chairs and a table. There are 88 of these staterooms aboard the ship.
The 14 Grand and Wellness Grand Suites are available with Wellness and Aurea experiences only and are 344sqft to 527sqft, with up to 226sqft balconies containing several upright chairs and a couple of drinks tables. Each also has a dining table with five chairs, a sofa and small glass table and a walk-in closet.
There are 28 Jacuzzi Suites, and as the name would suggest they come with a hot tub on the 75sqft balcony, which also contains seating and a small drinks table. The 301sqft staterooms feature a sitting area with a sofa that converts into a bunk bed, and a walk-in closet, while the bathrooms have baths, rather than just showers.
Moving into the MSC Yacht Club part of the ship, this ship-within-a-ship concept brings five-star luxury to a mainstream cruise ship, with keycard-access only to a private lounge overlooking the bow, a private dining room with similarly spectacular views and a top deck pool area with its own Jacuzzis and buffet.
There are 12 interior suites, 72 Deluxe Suites and two super-exclusive Royal Suites in the Yacht Club area.
The 226sqft interior suites are bigger than most of the ship’s balcony cabins and this is apparent in the fact that they have a small seating area, but apart from that they’re much the same as a standard cabin.
The 269sqft Deluxe Suites have a sofa and coffee table adjacent the bed and a 86sqft balcony, with two chairs and a table. There is more counter space in these cabin’s bathrooms, which only offer a shower, but it’s a big shower.
Then there’s the Royal Suite. At 667sqft, it’s the largest stateroom type aboard and feels like a private apartment. There’s a large living room with a picture window looking out onto the balcony, a bar setup and a huge flat-screen TV attached to one wall.
The bedroom contains a king-size bed with a flat-screen TV and there’s a huge ensuite bathroom with a shower-tub combo and marble everywhere. A walk-in wardrobe adds a nice touch too.
Out on the 355sqft balcony (accessible from either the living room or the bedroom) there’s a private hot tub, two loungers, a drinks table and two chairs.
MSC Seaview will be the most unique cruise ship ever to homeport in Dubai when she arrives in late 2018.
With a focus on keeping both revelers and families happy, she’ll offer something for everyone and in a city obsessed with Instagram, the Bridge of Sighs, ziplines, and expansive waterfront-style promenade decks are sure to make her popular with cruising expats and locals alike.
Categories: Ship Reviews