Breaking Travel News explores: MSC Seascape steps out in New York
MSC Seascape has made her debut in New York
Upward of 2,000 guests were on hand for a naming ceremony at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, with the city set to become the latest homeport for the line in April next year.
MSC Seascape will offer stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Mexico and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a private island operated by the line.
She is the largest ship to have ever docked in New York and sees MSC continue its expansion in North America.
Gianni Onorato, chief executive of MSC Cruises, noted: “Three years ago we performed three sailings to NYC and that experience was quite an eye opener.
“We realised that to take our next step in North America it was necessary to establish ourselves in this city.
“With the MSC seascape naming ceremony we celebrate our commitment to New York, but this is only a prelude to our more permanent establishment here this April.”
Breaking Travel News was in town for the debut earlier this month.
As soon as we stepped aboard the ship, that New York connection is easily perceptible from the glitzy Broadway glamour of the atria.
Slightly less subtle is the homage to all things USA, including in the Times Square shopping and entertainment area, which features a ten-foot replica Statue of Liberty.
But when did anybody ever accuse the United States of being subtle?
Built with the warmer climate of the Caribbean in mind, the ship is as impressive outdoors as it is inside.
The glass-floored Bridge of Sighs on Deck 16 overlooks the sprawling waterfront promenade that envelops the whole of Deck 8 and offers a great opportunity to slow down and contemplate the marine vistas around you.
On the other side of the serenity scale is the Robotron.
A new addition to the MSC entertainment arsenal, the state-of-the-art robotic arm propels guests 53 metres above the sea - treating them to an unobstructed 360° view of the horizon.
Or so we are told – the ride was closed due to the bad weather during our visit.
During our time on board the 2,270-cabin behemoth, we also sampled various food offerings at the Marketplace buffet on Deck 16 as well as the five specialty restaurants.
The Marketplace is where the Italian attentiveness and celebratory approach to food truly shines.
Catering to 5,000+ guests while maintaining quality is no mean feat and MSC Seascape really delivers.
Staples like Neapolitan pizza and Lombardian risotto can proudly count themselves among their local cousins in terms of quality and taste.
It isn’t quite like nonna’s cooking, but it is close.
The specialty restaurants include a Butcher’s Cut steakhouse, Hola! Tacos & Cantina, offering a selection of Mexican-inspired dishes, and Kaito Sushi Bar and Kaito Teppanyaki, both of which serve fresh sushi and other Japanese dishes with an added theatrical flair.
Finally, Ocean Cay focuses on seafood.
Having sampled all of them, we can safely conclude that a lot of care went into ingredient selection and menu development, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from an Italian-owned company.
Other notable highlights include the sizable MSC Aurea Spa, which, among the usual sauna and experience shower rooms, also features a Salt Room encrusted floor to ceiling in Himalayan pink salt crystals.
There is also a Snow Room, complete with its own designated snowman, and a sensory steam bath.
If you are looking for a further glow up, the Aurea spa has a hair and a nail salon.
These, combined with the 15 treatment rooms and a pool, will satisfy the needs and wants of even the most discerning guest.
As we took our seats in the Chora theatre for the naming ceremony, the venue was buzzing with a joyous atmosphere.
In between the speeches we got to sneak a peek at the entertainment planned on board which featured performances from cabaret dancers and singers, aerialists, contortionists and gymnasts.
The showcase culminated in a surprise appearance from Matteo Bocelli, the rising star of the classical crossover.
Then it was time for the naming – ship godmother, Sophia Loren, blessed MSC Seascape virtually, while Alexa Aponte-Vago, daughter of MSC Group founder Gianluigi Aponte, performed the traditional cutting of the ribbon.
Thus, to a tidal wave of raucous applause, the christening was complete.
The New York debut continues a successful period for the MSC.
Accounting for half of global capacity growth in the industry since 2019, the line has no intention of slowing down.
MSC Seascape is the 21st cruise ship in the line’s fleet, ninth launched in the last five years and fourth in the past 12 months.
A further five ships are being introduced next year, along with a new port in Miami.
Such rapid expansion comes with its own set of challenges - it is no secret that the cruise industry is one of the ‘hard to abate’ sectors when it comes to decarbonisation due to the immense difficulties of electrification and the costs of transition.
In addition, the mounting regulatory pressures around sustainability mean that innovation is key in ensuring operational longevity.
Michele Francioni, senior vice president for cost optimisation and process improvement at MSC Cruises, explains: “We need to make sure we are fully aware of the demands coming from our guests, from the regulatory environment, from the communities that we operate in.
“All of these for us are drivers to make sure we are pushing our efforts and making sure that we are designing and building ships that can still be operating comfortably in 30 years’ time.
“Decarbonisation is one of our main objectives and MSC has set targets to achieve this - one of the midterm targets is our commitment to reduce our carbon intensity by 2030 by 40 per cent compared to the 2008 levels.
“How we do that is by designing, building and operating our ships in a much more efficient way.”
MSC Seascape is a “prime example” of this commitment and represents another crucial step to achieve net carbon-neutral operations by 2050, Francioni added.
The ship is built in a way that maximises self-sustainability, equipped with heat recovery loops, which capture and utilise heat produced from the engines.
There is also a system that optimises the navigation of the ship, making sure she is positioned in the water in such a way as to reduce friction and minimise energy use.
The energy use is being continuously analysed from the London offices in order to inform new solutions for more energy efficient operations.
To minimise the impact of wastewater on the ocean, two reverse osmosis (filtering) systems desalinate sea water are used on board.
MSC Seascape produces more than 800 gallons of freshwater daily which is used on board, which is then cleaned by the advanced water treatment system before it is released back into the ocean.
The ship is also fitted with shore power which allows it to be connected to the electric grid when the ship is in port and turn off the engine, however we are not using it very often as most of the ports are not yet fitted with this technology.
In addition, MSC Cruises is actively working on phasing out the traditional combustion engine in favour of engines that can run on non-traditional fuels such as methanol and hydrogen.
The two new Explora Journey class ships are already running on LNG, with further retrofitting planned for the existing ships.
MSC Seascape has begun sailing to the Caribbean and the Bahamas for her inaugural season.
Head over to the official website for more information.
Words: Maria Korelina
Images: Anthony Devlin, Getty Images for MSC Cruises