Cruising has become less of an all-inclusive vacation over the years, with cruise companies selling lots of add-ons to increase onboard spending.
So what is included in the basic cruise fare with MSC Cruises? For the most part, it is similar to other cruise lines. A stateroom, food, entertainment, activities and sports, are among the major inclusions. Their modern ships do offer lots for those cruisers who don’t want to spend a lot on extras but still have a good vacation.
However, there are a few differences from some of the other major players like Carnival Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. Most significantly, MSC offers three different experiences (as they call them), which affects the base fare, and is separate from the cabin selection.
Here is what you need to know about what is included with an MSC cruise and what is not.
MSC Cruise ships have numerous food venues to satisfy a wide range of palettes and preferences.
Buffets and the main dining rooms provide meals all day long, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The buffets are popular on MSC cruises, operating 20 hours a day. They include a wide variety of food options:
- Meat Carvery
- Daily Specials
- Healthy options
- Special diets
- Mediterranean Dining
- International cuisine
- Kids Area
- Tea and coffee
- Iced Tea
- Juice (breakfast only)
In addition to the buffets, guests enjoy complimentary meals at the main dining rooms, which offer early and late sittings.
Once guests have finished enjoying meals, there are lots of amenities and activities to keep them busy.
- State of the art gym
- Walking track
- Mini golf
- Basketball, volleyball, tennis, squash and soccer
- Pools and hot tubs
- Himalayan Bridge suspension walk
*Other activities such as bowling, F1 simulator, zipline, 4D cinema, arcade and billiards room are at an additional cost.
Entertainment onboard includes live music, shows, games, and classes. There are six different shows every week at the theatre, as well as the MSC Factor talent contest.
Kids clubs are lots of fun at all ages. MSC’s partnership with Lego adds for some great activities along with sports, videogames and much more based on age and interest of kids:
- Baby Club 3 and under
- Mini Club 3-6
- Junior Club 7-11
- Young Club 12-14
- Teen Club 15-17
MSC for Me is available on newer ships in the fleet such as the Meraviglia and Seaside classes. The app is available on android or apple devices and assists passengers with planning and communication both pre-cruise and while onboard. One great feature is MSC for Me Chat which allows for messaging onboard without an internet package.
Another free app is PressReader, which allows guests to enjoy popular newspapers and magazines for free while cruising.
Other technology includes Zoe, a virtual personal cruise assistant to answer any questions, check the bill and reserve restaurants in seven different languages.
Access to private island Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
One major benefit of sailing with MSC Cruises is having access to their private island in the Bahamas. Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Ocean Cay) was once an industrial site but has been redeveloped into a serene paradise for its cruise guests.
Guests can enjoy free loungers on one of its eight different beaches. Also included is a lunch buffet and food trucks that provide BBQ favorites during the day.
A great perk to visiting Ocean Cay is that many of the cruises stay late, even over night, providing guests with the opportunity to stargaze and experience the island from a different perspective.
MSC Cruise Experiences
MSC Experiences allows guests to choose from three different experience levels when booking their cruise. Each level has varying levels of perks and prices.
Marketed for those cruisers who want good value and a pleasant stay. This tier is available for balcony, oceanview, and interior staterooms. It includes:
- Comfortable staterooms
- Fee for cruise change
- Discounted drink packages at the time of booking
- MSC Voyagers Club Points
Suited to those passengers looking for comfort and flexibility, this tier is available for suites, balcony, oceanview and inside rooms. It includes:
- Perks of Bella level
- 1 free cruise change
- Opportunity to select cabin and superior locations
- 24-hour room service (delivery fee)
- Free breakfast delivery
- Preferred dinner sitting
- 20% off specialty restaurants (prepaid)
- Complimentary picture at Mediterranean night
For suites and balcony guests who desire a more all-inclusive vacation, this is the most deluxe tier. Benefits include:
- Bella and Fantastica perks
- 1 free cruise change
- Opportunity to select cabin and its location
- Suites and balconies in best locations
- Prosecco and chocolate welcome package
- Discounted drink package at the time of booking
- 24-hour room service (free delivery)
- Free breakfast delivery
- Flexible dining time
- 20% off specialty dining package (prepaid)
- Access to private solarium
- Bathrobe and slippers
- Pillow options
- 40% off spa package
- Priority boarding and luggage drop off
MSC Yacht Club
MSC’s most luxurious option, it offers a wide arrange of benefits for the ultimate cruise experience:
- Dedicated priority check-in and check-out, along with priority departure and return on port days
- 24-hour butler and room service, and dedicated concierge
- Memory foam mattresses, selection of pillows, bathrobe and slippers
- Luggage packing/unpacking service, and newspaper upon request
- MSC for Me wristband (where available)
- 1 free cruise change
- Welcome package (Prosecco + chocolate)
- Dedicated restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Complimentary access to Thermal Suites at MSC Aurea Spa
- Premium Extra Drink Package
- Premium Internet package
- Dedicated, private area of the ship accessible only to MSC Yacht Club guests
- Panoramic Top Sail Lounge with bar, afternoon tea service, snacks and live entertainment
- Private pool deck, whirlpool baths, sunbathing area and outdoor bar
- Gourmet restaurant with a la carte dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Custom experiences, including shopping and excursions
- 20% discount on a dedicated specialty restaurant prepaid package
- 40% discount on a dedicated Spa prepaid package
- 10% discount on all spa treatments purchased on board
- Private area and amenities at Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island
MSC Wellness Experience
Available for any cabin type, this adult-only experience caters to wellness enthusiasts, providing unique benefits onboard and while onshore:
- One complimentary sport drink each day
- Personal exercise mat, Technogym Wellness Bag, towels, and sportswear kit
- Personalized fitness schedules
- 50% off Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga classes
- Use of MSC’s mywellness app
- Complimentary internet access
- Onshore activities designed for Wellness Experience participants
What’s not included on MSC
As with most cruise lines, there are a number of add on packages and activities that can be purchased. Cruisers will pay extra for:
- Hotel Service Charge (gratuities)
- Excursions in ports (except beach in Ocean Cay)
- Beverage packages – MSC has five different types of drink packages to choose from
- Dining packages for specialty restaurants
- Some specialty shows
- Spa and wellness – a variety of spa and wellness treatments, beauty salon and barbershop
- Internet packages
- Select onboard activities