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As MSC Cruises restarts operations in the Baltic Sea this July, MSC Seaview will become the first of the innovative Seaside class to be deployed in the region, commencing her sailings on 3 July and calling a brand new itinerary.

With an innovative design based on a modern beach condo concept, MSC Seaview is designed to bring guests closer to the sea. She incorporates a whole host of innovative features to enhance the enjoyment of the ocean. Featuring one of the highest ratios of outdoor spaces of any MSC Cruises ship, every element of the vessel enables guests to enjoy the outdoors in every aspect of their life on board and what better way to take in some of the most stunning coastlines in Northern Europe as guests enjoy 7-night voyages to Visby on Sweden’s largest island of Gotland, the port of Nynashmamn for Swedish capital city Stockholm and Estonia’s capital Tallinn before returning to the northern Germany port of Kiel.

The ship seems to turn previous ideas of what a large cruise ship should look like upside down. How did this idea come about, with an almost 360-degree promenade so close to the water and so many outdoor spaces?

First and foremost with this prototype, we want to push boundaries and literally re-write the rule book for ship design. The thinking behind this ship was how can we enhance the outdoor experience with innovative design features to really connect guests with the sea. Traditionally the outdoor spaces are focused around the swimming pools and sundeck areas which are usually on the upper decks. But instead, we created a promenade at deck 8 along and an aft pool on deck 7, bringing the guests physically closer to the sea. The waterfront promenade is wide and expansive and we included glass infinity bridges so that guests could really enjoy being close to the ocean. From the aft pool, guests are connected to the upper decks by panoramic lifts. Up there, you have the Panorama Pool and the more traditional sundeck areas plus the now iconic Bridge of Sighs. This glass walkway at the aft of the ship on deck 16 was designed to be the ultimate viewpoint of the ship and this has become the place for the perfect photo opportunity. Overall, we designed many elements of the ship to be enjoyed outside with places to eat, drink, relax and stroll.

But the innovation did not stop there, and the inside areas were designed as a “journey of discovery”. Every time you turn another corner, or you go through another doorway you find a new amazing area and every attention has been spent to make this ship feel glamourous and stylish. Take for example the impressive atrium spread over three decks connected with Swarovski staircases, filled with light from the windows and glittering from the mirrors and glass. The central focus of this area is LED screens and balconies above the bar that serve as the focus for the entertainment that is activated in this area through the day and into the evening.

How has the work on the design and architecture of the ship differed most from previous MSC Cruises ships?

The architects that we work with have different specialisations: some know how to build theatres, some do restaurants, others do retail, and some of them are specialized in outdoor areas. So, obviously having so much more outdoor space on a ship meant we had to focus from the beginning on finding the right architects to help us design those outdoor areas. That was the main difference. It is not so much about the process, but more about working with the right architects who could bring to play their areas of expertise to create the best experience for our guests.

Has there ever been a ship of this size in the world with so many exterior spaces?

If we look at the promenade alone, it is already top in the world. The design of Seaside-generation ships embodies our Company’s passion for the sea and features, amongst other, and boasts the highest ratio of outdoor space per guest at sea.

How does the design affect the guest experience?

If you look at the ship from the outside, this becomes clear at the very first glance. If you are coming into a port and you see the different cruise ships MSC Seaview would immediately stand out because it is such a different looking ship – all Seaside-class ships are – and everyone would be excited about it. The ship has a “wow” effect! All the outdoor spaces, the beautiful shape, the aft, with glass elevators, the glass bridge called the “Bridge of Sighs”, the pool at the aft and so much more! And when guests then come on board, they realize that this is a truly beautiful ship. The impression is one of space and light whether you are indoors our on the open decks.

What was the biggest challenge in the design?

The challenge was how to activate all these outdoor areas in a cohesive way and to link them together also with the indoor areas. As guests walk around that promenade area and are going from one area to the next, we needed to create a natural flow from inside to outside. With each new ship we build, we look to enhance the experience and MSC Seaview being delivered so close to the sister ship MSC Seaside, it was really important that we took all learnings and applied them to optimise the guest experience.

Does increasing the number of exterior spaces affect statics and handling characteristics?

They do! Obviously, this all goes into naval architecture when we are designing a ship. You have to look at it from other perspectives like how the wind effects the ship, how we position the lifeboats, which is quite different to other ships. It does affect these characteristics a lot, but you start from the ground up. When we came up with this original idea with the shipyard and you go into calculation, after calculation, with test after test make sure it works, then going through everything with the regulatory authorities to make sure that they are feasible and work, that they will be safe… it is a similar process. For other ships it has been an easier process, this was definitely a longer process, because the ship is so different. In sum, there were a lot more tests, a lot more checks and a lot more calculations, but it worked extremely well and the Seaside-class ships from Fincantieri perform extremely well.

What is the most central point in the ship or where is the heart of the ship?

I think the most central point of the ship would be the three-deck-atrium. It is not only the reception area but also a meeting point when you come in, you have restaurants leading there as well as bars and you also have entertainment and animations. It is a really lively part of the ship and definitely multi-purpose.

Why did you include a zip line on MSC Seaview?

We are always looking at the family offering and searching for new experiences. We wanted to do something different for the whole family, because there are adults who love to do join in the fun as well. A zip line sounded fun, but how could we do it? We put it right on the top of the ship and created those rings at the aft that guests go through to make it something really special. It also helped us to activate semi-technical areas. Because normally those areas where the zip line is positioned would simply be technical areas where guests wouldn’t go. And now all of a sudden, we can take people to a new experience – right up, super high on the ship, which you wouldn’t normally get to do. Now it becomes part of the experience cruising on a ship. That’s very exciting! And that’s what we are doing with all our ships moving forward from the contemporary fleet. We will not just do zip lines as you will see soon, but we will activate special areas and allow guests access to it, because that always becomes an adventure – and that is all part of the “journey of discovery.”