I was delighted to get invited to the christening of the brand new MSC Seaview in Genoa. In two days I managed to dine in six restaurants, slide down a 367-foot water slide, swim, dance and even shoot a few zombies! Check out my review of MSC Seaview.
MSC are renowned for their lavish christenings and this one was no exception. Hollywood legend Sophia Loren, the Godmother of all MSC ships, was there to cut the ribbon and listening to Andrea Boceilli’s son Mateo sing, was a personal highlight for me. There were fireworks and an exclusive after party – all in true Italian style! To be honest, none of this really surprised me, what did, was the cruise ship….
I had pre-conceived ideas about MSC Cruise ships. I was on board MSC Splendida in Dublin port a few years ago, and expected MSC Seaview to be an upgraded, modern version of Splendida. I was wrong. In fact with the exception of the Swarovski staircases, I saw very little similarity between the two cruise ships.
MSC Seaview is extremely modern. She is bright, airy, elegant, sophisticated, I could go on and on. Live music bellowed from the atrium as we boarded. This four-storey dazzling masterpiece is the focal point of the ship. The Seaview bar is strategically placed at the bottom. This transforms from a morning café to a the perfect bar for an aperitif, and later to a dance floor when the late night entertainment kicks in. There is live music and entertainment in the atrium throughout the day, with a variety of bars on each deck. We went here on the first night and it was like being at a great concert, the atmosphere was electric with people singing and dancing on all decks overlooking the stage.
MSC Seaview has 20 different bars and lounges, each one offering something a little special. We hung out in the Champagne bar (as you do!). It serves a wide variety of bubbles to suit all tastes and if you pre-purchase the drinks package before you sail (€26 per day), you can enjoy prosecco here free of charge. Gin lovers will love the Platinum bar in the casino, where you can create the perfect Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic, by infusing it with floral, spicy or citrus aromas. The sports bar is not your average sports bar either. There is sports memorabilia on the walls and massive TV screens playing a variety of sports, but the bar itself is classy. There are private booths with individual TV screens for private enjoyment, as well as football shaped bean bags for a relaxed homely atmosphere. It’s the type of bar than non-sports fans could go to and have a drink, while their partners watched the match.
Not all bars are indoors. There are plenty of outdoor bars serving up cocktails or whatever takes your fancy. I loved the Sunset bar at the back of the ship which conveniently plays music after dark. We enjoyed cocktails al fresco and danced until the small hours. It felt like I was on a super-yacht in Miami rather than a cruise-ship in Genoa!
Food glorious food on MSC Seaview
During my time as a travel agent I heard people complain about the variety of food on MSC cruises. To say MSC have upped their game is an understatement. The main buffet restaurant, called ‘Marketplace’ has a variety of options including its own pizzeria, offering delicious pizza slices. I also had tasty Nasi Goreng as well as breaded chicken fillets (I ate here twice!) and unlike many buffet restaurants, everything was hot! I am not normally a big buffet fan, I hate the constant banging of plates and the hustle for seats. What I loved about this buffet is that it is surrounded on three sides by outdoor seating areas, which changes the whole buffet dining experience. I would happily dine there every day for lunch. They also have a small buffet restaurant close to the pool on deck 15 which has child accessible counters.
We ate in the main dining room at night-time. With the exception of one bland starter, the food was of a very high quality. I had a delicious crab and lobster starter plate, a beef fillet that was perfectly cooked and a warm chocolate molten cake that literally melted in my mouth. I asked our server if this was typical of the dinner that guests could expect on board and I was told that it was a ‘special menu’ which would be typical of a gala night. So while fillet steak may not be on the menu every night, I would like to think that the standard and quality of the food would be the same.
I was lucky to be able to sample some of the specialty dining options too. Ocean Cay, by Spanish Michelin Star chef Ramón Freixa, served up mouthwatering seafood, while the Asian Market Kitchen has three different dining experiences in one restaurant. I loved this restaurant and I think I would end up eating here a few times if I was on a typical seven-night cruise. Celebrity chef Riy Yamaguchi partnered with MSC to bring an à la carte Asian restaurant, a modern teppanyaki grill where chefs perform and cook in front of you, and last but not least, a Sushi bar. I tried all three – purely for research purposes! There is also a trendy steakhouse, the Butchers Cut, for those looking for American cuisine.
The only way to follow this was to try the chocolate tasting in Venchi bar! This famous Italian chocolate maker has been making chocolate since 1878. A salted caramel gelato and some chocolate truffles later and I had reached my limit! I was genuinely amazed by the variety and quality of the food available on this ship. Note there are additional charges for the six speciality dining restaurants, but they are a fraction of what you would pay in a similar restaurant in a city.
One of the most innovative things about MSC Seaview is the amount of outdoor space. There is more outdoor space per guest than any other cruise ship in the world, 3.2 meters per guest to be precise. To use MSC’s own words, the ship is designed to ‘follow the sun’. The Waterfront boardwalk wraps all around the ship and is the widest seen on any ship. The ‘Bridge of Sighs’ is a see-through walkway at the back of the ship where you can see the Sunset pool 40 meters below. There are other glass-floored catwalks, that make you feel like you are walking on water and panoramic glass lifts to maximise seaviews.
Kids facilities on MSC Seaview
The facilities for kids on board are superb. There is a separate kids Forest Adventure Aquapark with slides and rope bridges as well as faster slides for older kids, or adults, depending on your mood. There are two racer slides with clear loops that extend out over the ship and a 367-foot water slide with lights and music that you slide down with a mat. I tried this and screamed the whole way down, but I loved it!
If all this isn’t enough you can race your mates on the dual ziplines – they are the longest at sea, test your skills on the Formula 1 simulator or kill some zombies in the 4D interactive cinema. We tried this and it was hilarious! It reminded me of a simulator ride in Universal Studios rather than an interactive cinema. Six of us sat in a car simulator with 3D glasses and watched as hundreds of zombies climbed on top of us. The object is to shoot as many zombies as possible, the winner being the person who shot the most. We laughed the whole way through, it was hilarious! However for a more relaxed experience, you can enjoy a game of bowling or watch a movie in the outdoor cinema.
MSC is a family owned company and they pride themselves on offering superb children’s facilities. It is not only the modern activities that kids will love, their kids clubs are excellent too. MSC have partnered with LEGO and offer two LEGO rooms, one for ages 3-6 and another from age 7-11. Toddlers will love the baby club which has the latest Chicco equipment. Teenagers have their very own teen club. Expect sports tournaments, dance contests, social network games, flashmobs discos and parties. Teens can have their own cruise card, where you can set the limits and control their daily spend – this is available from age 7 – 17. I love that you can always know where your kids are by locating them on the MSC for Me wristbands. This technology enables parents and staff to monitor their children at all times on the ship, so you can take a trip to the spa and not have to worry about their location.
I was really impressed with MSC Seaview. She ‘had me at hello’, when at first glance she reminded me of a super yacht rather than a massive cruise ship. And when I got to my stateroom and saw the pillow menu and a high speed hairdryer – I was sold! The attention to detail is evident throughout the ship, the classy bars, choice of dining options, the kids facilities, it even boasts the most state-of-the-art gym and the largest spa at sea! MSC really has pushed the boat out with MSC Seaview.
Things to watch out for.
Like all cruise ships, there can be extra charges. Drinks, speciality dining options, simulators, bowling, WiFi and spa treatments all incur additional charges. Check with your travel agent when booking and try to pre-book as many packages as possible to maximise value.
MSC Seaview cruises the Mediterranean during the Summer of 2018 and will move to Brazil for the winter before returning to the Mediterranean for Summer 2019. See msccruises.ie for more details or your local travel agent.