New MSC Cruise Ship Takes on Royal Caribbean, Carnival in the U.S.

The family-friendly MSC Cruises ship will sail out of Miami, putting the European company into a clear rivalry with the two biggest cruise lines that sail from U.S. ports.

Miami stands as the unofficial home port for the U.S. cruise industry and the de facto cruise capital of North America. Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report all are headquartered in the city. In addition, Port Miami hosts multiple cruise ships from each line.

As the biggest cruise port in the U.S., Miami has become a battleground city for the industry. That’s enhanced by the fact that the port is more or less downtown, so it’s easy to fly into and is a quick ride from the airport and many downtown hotels.

Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival sail multiple top-tier ships out of Port Miami, and it’s often the first U.S. home port for new ships. Effectively, you can sail any sort of Caribbean itinerary on a high-end ship from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian, from quick three-day weekend trips to week-long voyages.

Now, MSC Cruises has set its sights on the U.S. market. The European cruise line has a new flagship for the market, MSC Seascape, which will begin sailing out of Miami in January.

Image source: MSC

MSC Goes After the Family Audience

The company claims that MSC Seascape “will elevate the family experience and provide children with endless options for onboard entertainment.” 

When the ship begins offering seven-night cruises in December 2022, MSC has promised 98 hours of live entertainment per cruise, more than 7,500 square feet of dedicated kids’ space, and “cutting-edge amusement options.” 

This is MSC coming to Miami with a ship built to rival the best of what Carnival and Royal Caribbean have to offer.

“We have invested heavily in the entertainment proposition for our youngest guests. We know they value the latest technology, trends and happenings more than any other group, and we lead the way in creating special vacations,” said MSC Global Entertainment Head Steve Leatham. 

“The ship programming is full of innovations in hardware and software, and we have taken care to ensure that all age groups have exclusive access to all the amazing venues and spaces onboard this amazing ship. We are working with many partners and producing much of the content ourselves, ensuring everything is relevant and fits with our amazing ships.”

The ship will offer two Lego rooms and a space designed specifically for older kids.

“Guests from 12 to 17 years old will enjoy three new themed areas to engage with other teens their age,” the company said. 

“The first space will center around ‘Future’ and features a technology area with the latest generation consoles, VR and screens. The ‘Chill Out’ area will offer a place for teens to talk, exchange social media contacts and challenge each other to games of ping pong and foosball. 

“The third space celebrates ‘Music’ with a dance club featuring light and sound effects that allows teens to choose their own songs late into the night,” 

More Competition in Miami

MSC never names Royal Caribbean or Carnival in any of its press materials, but it’s clearly designing a ship meant to rival what those two companies offer. 

Seascape has been built with families in mind and that’s the core audience for the two leading U.S.-based cruise companies.

“With MSC Seascape, we want to surprise and leave Generation Z speechless. We’ve listened to the 350,000 young people who have traveled with us over the years and followed their trends and requests,” MSC Kids Entertainment Manager Matteo Mancini said. 

“We will offer even more space and new experiences for teenagers, have exclusive game shows for this age group and the first ‘edutainment’ game show dedicated to history, bringing in the concepts of new technology and social media.” 

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