Last updated: 05:27 PM ET, Wed March 18 2015

MSC Cruises to Base New Ship in Miami

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | MSC Cruises | Theresa Norton | March 18, 2015

MSC Cruises to Base New Ship in Miami

MSC Cruises' first Project Seaside ship will call PortMiami its year-round home after it enters service in November 2017, company officials announced at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference.

The 154,000-ton, 4,140-passenger ship MSC Seaside also will be christened in Miami, signaling the importance of the U.S. market to the Italian cruise line.

“Today is a very exciting day for the company as this is the first major announcement related to the company’s newbuilds and demonstrates our enthusiasm and long-term commitment to continuing to expand our presence in North America," said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. “Since bringing MSC Divina to Miami in November 2013, we’ve seen significant demand from consumers in the product, excellent support from our travel agent partners and the growing need for additional MSC Cruises’ ships in the market.”

MSC Cruises is in the midst of a $5.3 billion fleet expansion program that will double its capacity by 2022, Onorato said. The Vista Project includes two 167,000-ton, 4,500-passenger ships on order for delivery in 2017 and 2019 with options for two more in 2020 and 2022. Project Seaside also includes a second ship to be delivered in May 2018 and one option that could enter service by 2021.

MSC Cruises said the Seaside will operate from an expanded and renovated terminal at PortMiami — a testament to the company’s growing ambitions in the North American market.

The Seaside ships have a very distinctive appearance, especially aft, where staterooms with curved walls rise above a pool. It looks almost like a Miami Beach condo tower.

"The ship will surprise people just by looking at it before they get onboard," Onorato said. "People will ask, 'what is that? Is that a big condo in the water?' "

The company also revealed that the ship will have an expansive interactive water park, with water sprays, spilling buckets and five water slides, including two dueling 525-foot high-speed tubes that twist, turn and drop and extend over the side of the ship for a time.

It also will have a “slideboarding," a first in the industry on which guests slide down a slide on a raft that sort of looks like a surfboard. It also has a gaming system with colored lights and a game controller so it's almost like a big video game.

Connected to the aqua park is the Adventure Trail, a ropes course that dares guests to cross between towers, rope bridges, crawl-throughs and slides as their traveling companions try to spray them with water cannons from below.

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