Why This Ship is a Cruise World Game Changer
In the name of research, naturally, we've just sailed aboard the fabled new MSC Seaside to see what all the buzz was about.
And the answer is ... quite a lot. True to its rep as a Caribbean cruise game changer, the ship dished out a whole succession of singular experiences, starting with the exquisite pan-Asian fare at famed chef Roy Yamaguchi's first eatery at sea, Asian Market Kitchen. You'll find five more standouts below, plus insider intel on getting the most out of all of them -- and fab footage from Travelzoo senior editor Gabe Saglie for good measure.
1. Have the most fun in the sun
Purpose-built for the tropics and dubbed "the ship that follows the sun," MSC Seaside boasts the highest ratio of outdoor space per passenger of any ship in the Caribbean. That means everything from glass catwalks suspended 100-plus feet over the sea, to balconies on more than three-quarters of the cabins, to outdoor dining opps at (almost) every turn. Even the ship's two daytime buffets (also a first at sea) offer outdoor seating.
Tip: If you're a true vista aficionado, head to one of the best spots to catch the sunset: the Miramar Bar on deck 19.
2. Ride the longest zip lines at sea
Even one 350-foot zip line would be awesome -- and an industry first, at more than four times the length of existing versions at sea. But the MSC Seaside has two of them positioned side-by-side so that you can race a friend from the center to the aft of the ship at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. Gabe strapped in to show you how it's done -- you know, for research.
Tip: Save dramatically on rides by buying a weeklong unlimited pass for $20 per cabin (an individual ride costs $5). And though the instinct when you're packing for the Caribbean is to favor tanks and flip-flops, don't forget a sleeved shirt and close-toed shoes, or you won't be allowed to zip line.
3. Peace out at the largest Balinese spa at sea
To attain nautical nirvana, check out the 26,000-square-foot MSC Aurea Spa, where signature treatments include the Bali Sunrise Lulur -- a sloughing, hydrating and aromatherapeutic face and body treatment that induces the most ethereal glow.
Other serenity-inducing signature services to check out at the spa: the Sangiovese Velvet Body Treatment and Cabernet Sauvignon Firming Facial, among other vinotherapy treatments created just for MSC Seaside with wine from Andrea Bocelli's family vineyards in Tuscany.
Not that you need to book a treatment to peace out here: You can get a week's worth of unlimited access to the thermal suites -- which include a snow room, Himalayan salt room and a succession of saunas and steam rooms -- for $90.
For bonus bliss, rent one of MSC Aurea Spa's private oceanview cabanas, where you can have open-air treatments -- and personalized service for the day. Tip: At $180 per couple for half a day, the cabanas are a great way to replicate the private-club feel of the MSC Yacht Club (the swankiest staterooms on the ship) for a sliver of the price.
4. Stay in the first-at-sea interconnecting rooms for up to 10 guests
Time was, extended clans that wanted to stick together at sea had to book into suites -- a lovely, but not always budget-friendly, option. Enter MSC Seaside's new interconnecting cabins -- available in various categories -- which let you link up a few rooms without breaking the bank.
Tip: For an even more family-friendly experience, grab an MSC For Me bracelet for your children and monitor their location on board. They'll most likely want to roam the arcade, 4-D virtual reality game and full-size bowling alley -- or dine on the beloved pizza at the Biscayne Bay Buffet & Pizzeria.
5. Try the first slideboarding setup at sea
Beyond being an outdoors-loving ship, MSC Seaside is also incredibly tech-centric. Perhaps our favorite combo of those attributes: Slideboarding, a waterslide-video game hybrid that lets you swoosh down dual 367-foot slides on score-keeping, controller-equipped rafts. Consider the competition an exercise in one-downmanship -- and epic fun.
Tip: Think of this as almost a waterborne equivalent of Guitar Hero. You'll need to think fast on the move, so memorize the board before going into the slide.