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How to save hundreds of dollars on your MSC cruise with this one simple trick

MSC docked in Ocean Cay

MSC Cruises is known for their low prices and is becoming increasingly popular with cruisers who want to make the most of their vacation budget. 

While the European cruise line has a number of ongoing sales and promotions to help save you money on the price of your cruise, there is one strategy I use to make sure I get the most bang for my buck. 

Who doesn't want to save some money on their cruise fare? That means more for excursions and other fun cruise ship activities like specialty dining, spa treatments, gambling at the casino, or even another cruise! 

Here's how to save hundreds of dollars on your next MSC cruise. 

Read more: I'm an avid cruiser who always recommends MSC for first-timers. It's barely a step down from pricier competitors — and usually cheaper

Picking a cruise 

MSC Western Caribbean

MSC Cruises sails extensively throughout the world. It is easy to search their website and narrow down potential options using filters such as destination, date, departure port, number of nights, ship, and one of the most critical variables: price. Cruises can be displayed from the lowest to the highest price, which can be particularly helpful in making sure you are looking at the best deals. 

Once you find an appealing cruise option, MSC provides two alternatives for booking. One is the "Best Rate" fare price, and the other is the "Best Value" fare. While the difference between the two will vary based on the itinerary, the second price is higher because it includes a drink package, wi-fi, and onboard credit. 

These add-ons are incredibly popular purchases for most cruisers but can significantly increase the cost of your cruise vacation by easily hundreds of dollars. Picking MSC's "inclusive" fare option can save you a sizeable amount of money. 

Breaking down the options

Alcohol free drink package

While purchasing drink packages and wi-fi may not be on the top of mind when making the initial cruise booking, this is the best opportunity to save money, and once booked, you cannot go back and change your fare option. This is an important consideration before placing your deposit.   

In terms of onboard offerings, standard drinks -- like coffee, tea, lemonade, and water -- are complimentary on the MSC ships. Most people, however, enjoy a cool beverage poolside or a nice glass of wine with dinner. 

How about a specialty coffee in the morning or a sparkly mimosa to start the day off right? Why not? You are on vacation! Surprisingly, these beverages can add a lot to your cruise bill. Even if you don’t want alcoholic drinks, bottled water and pop cost extra.  

Read more: What’s included on an MSC Cruise?

Wi-fi is another must-have for most people on cruises. Whether you want to keep in touch with friends and family at home, upload some pictures to Instagram, or check out what to do in port, purchasing cruise ship wi-fi is a far more economical option than cellular roaming charges when traveling abroad. And out at sea, there is no cell coverage. 

Booking the more inclusive fare option can result in some major cost savings if you plan to buy wi-fi and a drink package anyway. On top of that, MSC provides up to $100 per person in onboard credit, which can be used for onboard purchases, gratuities, activities, and more.  

Potential savings 

Pay online

MSC’s "Best Value" package includes the Easy Plus Drink Package, the Browse Wi-Fi package, as well as extra onboard credit. 

The Easy Plus Package is one of five drink packages that MSC offers, which provides a good variety of drinks, such as beer, wine, basic cocktails, spirits, bottled water, and soda, to name a few.  If you were to buy the Easy Plus Package, it typically costs $61 per day if purchased in advance through the cruise planner. That works out to a cost of $427 per person on a 7-night cruise. 

The Browse Internet package, MSC’s basic offering, is suitable for email, social media, and messenger apps. It costs $72.73 for a week-long cruise if purchased in advance through the cruise planner. In addition to this, guests receive as much as $100 in onboard credit when they book the "Best Value" fare. 

In total, this translates to around $530 in value for this package. Of course, this can vary by cruise; however, this is something to consider if add-ons are something that you're wanting to buy. 

Cost breakdown  

Cruise fare MSC

I looked at some upcoming cruises, including a fantastic itinerary on one of MSC’s newest ships, MSC Seascape. This ship is a great choice as she has lots of outdoor space, including al fresco dining, to make the most of the warm weather. 

A 7-day itinerary featuring ports of call in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Ocean Cay MSC Reserve, the cruise line’s stunning private island in the Bahamas, caught my eye as an ideal getaway. For this cruise, the "Best Rate" fare starts at $859 per person and increases to $1,149 for the Best Value fare for an inside cabin. 

That’s a difference of $290 per person, but when you add in the included wi-fi, drinks, and onboard credit, this ends up saving $240 per person -- or $480 for a couple. For a two week cruise, the savings are even more impressive, with net savings of $464 per person, which is just under one thousand dollars for a couple. 

Is the drink package worth it? 

MSC drink package

If you are wondering whether buying a drink package is a good idea, here's a look at what you get and the potential savings. While many people like to wait and look for a better deal on drink packages, with MSC, you definitely get the best deal when booking. They don’t have Black Friday sales; in fact, their drink prices remain constant.

I personally found this package provides a lot of great options, and it definitely saved me a lot of money, especially with how much bottled water and soda I drank throughout the day. Another major bonus is that this package includes gratuities. 

The Easy Plus Package offers a selection of drinks, including spirits and liqueurs, and can be used at specialty restaurants. It includes: 

  •  A variety of draught and bottled beers
  • Selection of wines by the glass 
  • 10% discount on bottles of wine 
  • A variety of frozen and classic cocktails 
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails (mocktails) 
  • Spirits 
  • Liqueurs and cordials 
  • Soda
  • Mineral water 
  • Coffee, cappuccino, expresso, caffe latte, and hot tea 
  • Hot chocolate and tea 
  • Package can be used at Ocean Cay 
  • Applies to beverages up to $10 

Note that this package does not include Venchi 1878, Lavazza Coffee Ship, or Jean Philippe Chocolate. It can, however, be used at Ocean Cay, their private destination in The Bahamas. 

MSC Cruises drink prices 

Bella Experience

Drink menus are quite extensive on MSC cruise ships, and there is a range in prices depending on what you order. Prices for popular beverages include:

  • Draught beer is 4.50 for 7 oz, $7.50 for 14 oz
  •  Bottled beer is $7.50 
  • Spirits vary, however, there are plenty in the $8 -$12 range 
  • Soda is $3.50 per can
  • Frozen drinks are $9  
  • Wine is $6 and up
  • Coffees and teas fall between $2-$5
  • Aperol Spritz, Margarita, and Prosecco cost $10
  • Each bottle of water is $3.25
  • Specialty coffees like cappuccino, latte, or hot chocolate are $4.25

Although many of the cocktail prices are reasonable by cruise ship standards, by the time you add up a couple of coffees, bottles of water, and a few drinks, the drink package will pay for itself in no time. 

A major plus of the MSC drink package is that it is valid at Ocean Cay, the cruise line’s island in The Bahamas. There are a number of fantastic beachside bars where you can kick back and enjoy the stunning views. Another perk of MSC drink packages is that there are no limits to the number of drinks you can have in one day. 

Browse Wi-Fi package  

MSC wifi

MSC Cruises offers guests two types of internet packages, and the basic Browse option is included in the "Best Value" fare price. This package includes unlimited data and 24 hour a day access. 

The option is best suited for browsing, sending and receiving emails and images, chatting on messenger apps (like WhatsApp or Facetime), and checking social media. 

MSC does not recommend this package for watching videos, streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Music, YouTube, or video chats. 

This is a much better solution than spending valuable vacation time looking for free wi-fi in port.  Another bonus with MSC is that their internet package is valid at Ocean Cay.

Final thoughts 

MSC people

If you are looking at doing an MSC cruise and want the ease of a drink package and internet access, picking the "Best Value" fare option will save you hundreds of dollars. 

Although it may be tempting to pick "Best Rate," as it is the lower amount, this can result in missing out on the savings. Unlike other cruise lines, MSC does not have sales on their drink and wifi packages. They don’t fluctuate pre-cruise, so there is no need to wait and see what the Black Friday sale price will be. Waiting until you board will cost you more, too. 

If you want to get the best price on your MSC cruise, you may want to work with a good travel agent to make sure you are getting all of the best deals in addition to the "Best Value" price. For example, after your first MSC cruise, you are eligible for a 5% discount on cruise fares when you join their loyalty program, Voyagers Club

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