The MSC Seaside is a high tech megaship that families will love. It is, however, very different from its other contemporary cruise line competitors like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Although the MSC Seaside was built specifically with families in mind and sails from Miami, it caters to a very international audience. It's an Italian ship with a very European flair. If you're looking to mix and mingle with lots of American family cruisers, this is not the ship for you. If you would like your children to be exposed to people from many different cultures speaking different languages then you are certainly the right fit for this ship.
In this review I've listed 17 things families will enjoy on board the MSC Seaside that may be a little different if you've sailed on other family cruises....
1. Kids Sail Free
On MSC Cruises, kids 17 and under sail free on select sailings, based on availability, when sharing a stateroom with two other guests. Don't expect this deal on busy school holiday sailings but if you can sail off season it's a phenomenal deal. On other sailings, children 11 and under sail free, while those 12 to 17 sail at a significantly discounted rate. And children under 2 years of age always sail free as a third or fourth guests. Remember, Uncle Sam never gives you a free ride from taxes, even for kids so you'll need to pay the kid's taxes.
2. Family Suites
The MSC Seaside has some great accommodations for large and extended families.
Superfamily PLUS Cabins are 3 guaranteed connecting cabins that will accommodate families up to 10 passengers. These cabins are available with balconies or ocean views.
Superfamily Cabins are 2 guaranteed adjoining cabins that will accommodate families up to 6 people. Again these cabins are available in balcony or ocean view categories
Unlike typical cruise cabins where the price is based on the number of passengers allowed to share that cabin, both of these Superfamily and the Superfamily plus cabins have a set price regardless of the number of people sharing the cabin...So you can book the Superfamily Plus cabin for your family of 7 but you'll be paying the same price as a family of 10.
The MSC Seaside also offers a 2 bedroom Grand suite and a Balcony Seaside suite with private whirlpool on the balcony that will accommodate families of 5 and are priced per passenger.
In addition to the purchase of your cabin, MSC offers unique experience packages, that lets families customize their cruise vacation. Each experience offers different amenities and inclusions. It's important to book these experiences when you deposit your cabin. Availability does sell out and you can't add these experience packages once you're onboard.
Speaking of customizing your MSC Cruise experience, the free MSC for Me App is available for both android and Iphone. It allows guests to customize their daily schedules, make spa appointments and much more. Parent will appreciate the app's ability to track their children via their wristband no matter where they are on the ship.
4. The Forest Aquaventure Park
This is a kid's paradise located at the base of the ship's funnel on deck 18 near to the kids club areas. This multi-level area consists of a splash area with slides for younger children and four different slides, two of which have see-through portions that extend out over the ocean for older kids and adults. There is no additional cost to ride the slides but riders must be a minimum height of 42 inches. Adjacent to this area is the family "jungle" themed pool. This area is somewhat enclosed from the elements. Parents may want to bring life jackets and floaties along as the Jungle and regular pools onboard are about 6 feet deep without zero entry or shallow areas.
5. Baby Equipment
MSC Cruise Line partners with European childcare equipment company Chicco. Thanks to this collaborate parents with little ones will find items onboard like strollers, bottle warmers and baby backpacks for shore excursions, to make cruising even simpler for families with babies and toddlers. On the MSC Seaside, families with little ones will receive "Baby Globetrotter"– a printed guide packed with information on services and mini-club activities, game ideas, kids menus and handy tips for family excursion ideas.
6. Baby Club & Baby Care
MSC Seaside allows infants as young as 6 months to sail on board their cruises. Infants starting at age 1 and toddlers up to age 3 to their Baby Club and Baby Care programs. The Baby Club is a playgroup where parents can stay and play with their little ones and meet other families. Baby Care is a babysitting service that costs $7 per hour plus 15% gratuities. Both the Baby Club and Baby Care offer limited hours of operation that are noted in the Baby Globetrotter book. Be aware the time of these activities may change with specific sailings.
7. Dorimiland Kids Club
DOREMILAND offers fun activities based on two different ages groups. the Miniclub is for children 3-6 years old and the Pirates club is for juniors ages. 7-11 years old. In addition to typical arts & crafts, video games, sports competitions and other play, children on the MSC Seaside can learn from multi-national crew and guests. Family parades, talent shows and events are presented in multiple languages. Kids and parents are encouraged to have fun learning together.
Did I mention that MSC Cruise Line has a partnership with Legos? Kids from ages 3-11 will be amazed with the number and type of Legos on board. Best part...parents don't have to clean up or step on them!
9. Teen Program
Teens have their own lounge to hang out while on board and make friends with other teens from all around the world. Young Club (12-14 years old) and Teens Club (15-17 years old) have specific times of supervised activities on board.
10. Bridge of Sighs
For families who are not afraid of heights, deck 16 offers the Bridge of Sighs. It's a clear, plexiglass walkway that makes you feel like you're one with the sea. It is also a wonderfully unique location for a family portrait that everyone will envy when you post it on social media.
If the "Bridge of Sighs" is a bit too mild mannered for the daredevils in your family, the MSC Seaside offers the longest Zip Line at sea. Soar from the ship's funnel over the Miami Beach pool on 367 feet of fun with 360 degree views. Actually there are two ziplines that end in the circles just above the big screen so you can race. There is a cost of $5 per person/per ride or you can purchase an unlimited pass for $20 per person.
12. The Arcade
The MSC Seaside offers tons of family fun in their arcade. Just know parents that these features do come with an additional cost Highlights are the XD (or 5D) cinema is really fun but costs $10 per adult and $8 per child. There is an onboard bowling alley that costs $25 per 1/2 hour and $45 per hour with a $2 shoe rental per person. There is a fun F1 race simulator that costs $10 per person per ride which quickly proved the point that I should not consider a career as a race car driver. In addition there are air hockey tables, self leveling billiards and more arcade games. Instead of paying "ala carte", it may be more affordable for your family to purchase a pass. These passes come in different denominations with bonus play credits. Arcade staff can explain all the details when you purchase them on board. These play credits can also be applied to zipline rides.
Chocolate, coffee, specialty cocktails, gelato, popsicles and crepes....what's not to love? The coffee here is some of the best I've ever had and is included in your drink package. Other sweet indulgences come with a price but worth every penny. My personal happy place on board!
14. Pizza at the Buffet
The MSC Seaside is an Italian cruise ship that serves up some of the best pizza on the seven seas. These amazing hand tossed pies are available 20 hours a day and yes, I did enjoy pizza for breakfast. Be sure to request an early dining time in the main dining room or upgrade to the Aurea Experience to head to the dining room whenever you want if you're traveling with children. Europeans tend to eat dinner later than Americans. If you don't plan ahead you may end up with a 9:45 dinner reservation.
15. Family Entertainment
This ship offers plenty of entertainment options that parents and kids can enjoy together. Early every night in the center atrium lounge the kids and staff from Doriland kids club put on a song or show for the guests that is so much fun to watch. There are dance classes, trivia games and even a family friendly early comedy improv show. Being Italian, one of the things MSC Cruise Line is known for is Opera. An opera is performed on each sailing which includes full explanations of the story in several different languages. It's a wonderful, casual and affordable way to introduce your kids to this classical art form.
16. Ship Talk
If you have a child or family member that loves knowing how things work, be sure to catch the Captain's ship talk. Instead of paying for a "behind the scenes" ship tour, the captain and crew of the MSC Seaside do an hour long presentation about all the operations on board which includes photos of the bridge, galley, engine room and more. It's a fascinating insight into everything you've wondered about cruise ships. In addition, the captain and crew are available afterwards to answer any additional questions.
MSC Cruise Lines has a partnership with one of the world's favorite cooking shows, Masterchef. Competitions are held on board for both the adult version and Masterchef Junior. If you're addicted to cooking shows like I am, its a lot of fun. Trivia questions are posted in 6 different languages. Six winners are selected to prepare an a starter, entree and dessert in 10 minutes. I aced the trivia and was selected to cook with a fellow guest but our offering wasn't selected by the ship's head chefs. It was a lot of pressure, a ton of fun and gives you a new respect of what these amazing chefs do every meal for 5000 guests.
18. Making International Friends
On my recent cruise Captain DePalma told me there were 107 different nationalities of guest on board. In addition he said there were crew members from 90 different countries all working together as a team. He said he was most proud of how all these different people could come together, work and have fun in peace. His wish was that the United Nations could learn a thing or two about world peace from his ship. I have to agree with our captain. Not only will your family have fun on the MSC Seaside but perhaps our future world citizens will be exposed to new cultures, new languages and new ways we all can have fun together.
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