The first of a pair of MSC Cruises’ new generation ships is to sail year-round to the Caribbean from Miami.
The newly-named MSC Seaside, due to make its debut in November 2017, is part of a fleet expansion plan worth more than $5 billion.
The first Seaside-class vessel will feature a giant aqua park with four slides.
‘Slideboarding’ – a waterslide and interactive video game combined – will enable passengers to race down a two-storey, 112-metre slide on a raft that includes an embedded game controller with coloured buttons.
The goal is to match the colour of the flashing strobe lights seen on various sections of the slide with the coloured buttons on the raft. The slide uses a smart gaming system that knows who riders are and tracks their progress and scores over the run down the waterslide.
Another will include inner tubes for users to race against each other through metres of twists, turns and drops on slides that partially extend over the side of the ship.
A ropes course will be connected to the aqua park in addition to an area designed specifically for tots, featuring an active and colourful water play structure.
MSC Cruises announced the construction of two 4,140-passenger Seaside-class vessels in May 2014.
The vessels – built at Italy’s Fincantieri ship yard – will have a low-level promenade with shops, bars and al fresco dining options.
They are due for delivery in November 2017 and May 2018, with an option for a third in 2021. At 154,000 gross tons, the ships will be the largest ever built by Fincantieri.
Following the delivery of MSC Seaside, the ship will make its way to Miami for MSC Cruises’ first christening ceremony in the US.
MSC Cruises will operate from an expanded and renovated terminal and berth at the port of Miami as part of a commitment to grow in the US market.
The company’s expansion plans also includes orders for two 4,500-passenger 167,600 gross ton ‘Vista-class’ vessels, being built at the STX yard in France for delivery in 2017 and 2019, plus an option for two more.
MSC Cruises’ chief executive Gianni Onorato, speaking at trade show Cruise Shipping Miami, said: “The Seaside class of ships is part of MSC Cruises’ €5.1 billion fleet expansion plan that will allow the company to double its capacity by 2022.
“Today is a very exciting day for the company as this is the first major announcement related to the company’s new builds. It demonstrates our enthusiasm and long-term commitment to continuing to expand our presence in North America.”
“MSC Cruises has the unique opportunity to provide guests with a Mediterranean-style cruise experience that no other line is able to offer as it sails to the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean.”
“Since bringing MSC Divina to Miami in November 2013 we’ve seen significant demand from consumers, excellent support from our travel agent partners and a growing need for additional MSC Cruises ships in the region.”
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