MSC Cruises had a Christmas present for Miami in a gala naming ceremony of its newest ship on Dec. 21.
Ricky Martin did a set of his most popular hits and superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli, accompanied by a Haitian childrens’ choir, filled a newly opened cruise terminal in PortMiami with arias. And then Sophia Loren, appearing for the 12th time as godmother of an MSC ship, officially named MSC Seaside.
MSC Cruises has remained a niche line for most Americans and Canadians. Until now, the Italian-based line has concentrated on Europe and South America, with only one of its 16 ships doing cruises from U.S. ports and only during the winter months.
That’s destined to change in dramatic fashion with the coming of MSC Seaside. One of the company’s largest ships, with a capacity of 4,138 guests, and the first one with an English, rather than Italian, name, is taking up full-time residence in Florida to do year-round Caribbean cruises.
Seaside is designed to appeal more to North Americans than the line’s previous ships, whose restaurants and entertainment aimed at a European audience. Among the new features are a steak house, The Butcher’s Cut and a buffet-style pizzeria.
Entertainment is also being geared for North Americans with the Metropolitan Theatre offering a Broadway-style show every night. American comedy also makes its debut with six late-night shows on each cruise.
MSC Seaside joins MSC Divina cruising from Miami and by the fall of 2019 with the seasonal deployment of MSC Meraviglia from New York, the line will have three ships sailing from U.S. ports in winter months with a weekly combined capacity of over 12,000 passengers.
Seaside’s weekly itineraries include an eastern route to Antigua, St. Thomas and Nassau or a western itinerary that includes Costa Maya, Mexico, Cayman Islands and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. MSC is building a private island near Bimini that will serve all its vessels in the Caribbean when it opens in 2019.
MSC has even bigger plans for the future. At a ceremony to accept delivery of the Seaside from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, MSC chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Mediterranean Shipping Co. owner and chairman Gianluigi Aponte announced a contract would be signed for two more larger Seaside-class ships, each with capacity for 350 more passengers.