It was the 22nd of May 2014 when in Rome Fincantieri’s headquarters was unveiled for the first time the Seaside Project, the first ship of MSC Cruises made in Italy, the largest ever built by Fincantieri. The structure was so special and unconventional that even we, authentic MSC Fans, initially saw with a critical eye this prototype. But now, more than two years later, in Seaside we trust and it was exciting to see her touch its natural element for the first time: the water.
Following the presentation of the project, the first step was the starting of construction with the first metal cutting ceremony, which occurred in the Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Friuli Venezia Giulia, on the 22nd June 2014. Since that day, they began creating construction blocks from raw steel. On the 3rd March 2015 they started the actual construction with the first block set in the dry dock. The next month it was celebrated the coin ceremony, a symbolic value, which consisted in welding two gold coins into the hull as a good omen. Now let’s focus on the event that we are going to describe you. At the time of great liners it certainly happened in a more “romantic” way, but it still maintains its importance: the launch, also said technical launch or float-out.
Our two days long trip dedicated to MSC Seaside begins on Friday, the 25th November 2016 in Trieste, where thanks to the excellent organization of MSC and Fincantieri we are picked up by a car. After a few minutes on the highway the silhouette of the ship already begins to stand out, impressive as the great chimney of the thermal power plant on her side. We arrived in the town of Monfalcone and then in the yard, which was in continuous turmoil. Next to a 323 meters long Seaside, workers were already working at the building blocks of her sister Seaview, whose construction in dry dock will begin shortly. Further sections are coming from Fincantieri’s facilities located in the Mediterranean, primarily that of Genoa that provided a large portion of the hull.
On board tour
We received our badge as “press”, the protective helmet and we were ready to get on board MSC Seaside: it was structurally complete, but still an empty shell that will be filled following the directives of the four teams of architects to whom MSC has entrusted the design of this ship, so that every local is different and unique compared to the other: Tillberg Design, Bjørn Petter Yran Storbraaten Architects & As, Daz Studio and, of course, the author of all the 12 ships in the fleet, De Jorio Design of Genoa.
Once on board we use one of the service lift of the crew area; it was already working, though still without coatings. We arrived at deck 19, whose name hasn’t been announced yet by MSC. We went on the outside deck just below the big smokestack, which has already got the Company compass rose but without the blue color that suits it. For the most experienced MSC Fans it might recall the period of the MSC history in which the funnel was white with the gold logo. We gave a look at the area that will host the water park and a multipurpose playing field and then we proceeded towards the stern. Here the view could space on the large pool area of 16 Siesta Beach bridge, over which two parallel 130 meters long zip lines will run. This is one of the attractions of Seaside.
Our tour continued on the underlying deck and we reached deck 16 (deck 17 for reasons of superstition does not exist on MSC ships and Seaside will not certainly be an exception) , which hosts the ship area where we found special restaurants such as the Teppanyaki or the steakhouse, as well as the area dedicated to the family lounge. Outside, as already noted above, we could see the large pool area with the swimming pool and a big screen. But the best part was the stern, where you can step on a large suspension bridge (literally) over the lido eight decks below, about 20 meters high. Certainly one of the most particular areas of the ship, thanks to its design. Once completed the tour of the high decks, we managed to get down to the number 8 Pink Sands, where we visited the area that will become the atrium on four decks, the buffet and the most important feature of the Seaside project: the outside promenade, the largest in the cruise sector spanning 360 degrees around the ship.
Our tour finished with deck 7 Miami Beach, where we found various lounges and bars, a nightclub and a bowling alley, as well as an outdoor zone in the open area of the stern. The pools on Seaside will be four: three external (one of which is reserved to the Yacht Club area) and one with a retractable cover amidship
After the tour, we came back down on the platform to prepare for the opening of the valves. We spent a few moments with the eyes fixed on the panel with four lights indicating the beginning of the operation. Once all the lights became green, the water started to flow into the building dock, a few meters away from the gigantic stern of Seaside. It will take about 6 hours to reach the water line of the ship and therefore abandon the dock’s blocks.
After spending several minutes admiring the power of water entering the dock, it was time to go to see the mock-up of the future of Seaside cabins as well as some elements that are going to decorate the rooms of the vessel. As well as for Meraviglia, the cabin follows the traditional De Jorio style, but with more contemporary lines. The technological base of these rooms is important, already predisposed to the use of Near Field Communication technology to stay connected through the guests personal devices.
Our first day in Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone ended with an impeccable and impressive gala dinner, just a few meters away from Seaside. During the gala dinner, the MSC’s CEO Gianni Onorato talked about the characteristics of the future Company’s Caraibic flagship such as the outdoor 360 degrees promenade, the rich selection of special restaurants such as Butcher’s Cut and Teppanyaki, the unpublished cabins with terrace and the digital connection that makes Seaside a “smartship” ready for the future. You can listen to the integral speech on our social channels. A last look at the water level, which had then reached the rudders of Seaside, and it was time to return to Trieste, concluding the first day.
The following morning we return to the site where, unfortunately, we found Seaside already out of the dry dock and moored in the area of the yard dedicated to interior and exterior.
Inside a marquee at the dock we see the intervention of the CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, who points out the great ambitions of this order, the first that Aponte relies to the Italian shipyard, and the commitment to deliver a “vanguard” product. “Be managed with a prototype that has a so recognizable design, with which we reiterate the business and technology leadership in the industry, make us doubly proud of the result”, he concluded. Then it is the turn of the Executive Chairman of MSC Pierfrancesco Vago who recalls how the blue economy, the economy attached to the sea, is one of the key markets for Italy, representing about 3.5% of national GDP, or 123 billion of euro, five of which related to the MSC group. Group of which MSC Cruises is one “who is proud”, says Vago “to contribute significantly to this sector and has ambitious plans for the future that are intended to generate additional economic and employment impact of the sector through investments both cruises and the other areas where it is engaged in Italy – from cargo to the ferries until the management of terminals“.
We conclude our two days at the Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, where we had the opportunity to attend one of the most important steps of the construction of a cruise ship and in particular of a ship as important as the MSC Seaside prototype.