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MSC Cruises Guide

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MSC Cruises has grown to become one of the most popular cruise brands globally, competing against giants like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival.

The story of MSC began with an Italian family and one ship. Today, that same family plays a critical role in the leadership of the largest privately owned cruise line and transportation group worldwide.

MSC Cruises offers competitive prices, a wide range of itineraries and a growing fleet that provides cruisers with lots of great options. The announcement last summer that the company is investing $450 million in a new terminal in Miami further highlights their commitment to growth in North America.

For those wanting to cruise on MSC, this guide will provide an overview important topics including:

Overview of the Fleet

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MSC World Europa

The MSC fleet consists of 19 ships, with two more on the way in 2022 and another in 2023. Since its launch, MSC has expanded its itineraries worldwide, building bigger and better ships with the use of more environmentally friendly technologies. It has 6 classes of ships.

World Class

World Europa

  • Gross Tonnage: 205,700
  • Length:  1,092 Feet
  • Width: 154 feet
  • Number of passengers 6,774
  • To be launched in 2022

World Europa is the first ship in this new World class, and befitting of thr series, the largest MSC ship to date. Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), it will commence with sailings in the Gulf region in time for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, followed by cruises in the Mediterranean in 2023.

Considered an ultra modern design both inside and out, the ship utilizes the newest technologies and upgraded amenities to deliver a contemporary cruise experience for MSC guests. The ship has distinct neighborhoods for adults, entertainment, and families, spaces to appeal to all types of cruisers.

Some of the major highlights include a 295 foot long promenade with ocean views and LED sky screen, Venom Drop, the longest dry slide at sea spanning 11 decks, a 10 thousand square foot Balinese style spa with gym, and the largest waterpark in the fleet.

Seaside Class

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Seashore

Bigger is not the only way forward for MSC. With their newer Seaside Class, MSC has designed ships geared toward sailing in warmer climates like the Caribbean. These ships feature more outdoor venues for eating and relaxing as well as a unique seafront promenade.

The launch of MSC Seashore in 2021, a subclass of Seaside termed EVO, has even more improved environmental technologies along with MSC for Me guest technology. These ships feature expansive open deck spaces and a seafront boardwalk dotted with restaurants, lounges and bars.

Ships:

MSC Seascape

  • Gross Tonnage: 169,400
  • Length: 1,060 feet
  • Width: 135 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,877
  • To be launched in 2022

MSC Seashore

  • Gross Tonnage: 169,400
  • Length: 1,112 feet
  • Width: 134 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,632
  • Launched in 2021

MSC Seaview

  • Gross Tonnage: 153,516
  • Length: 1,060 Feet
  • Width: 135 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,079
  • Launched in 2018

MSC Seaside

  • Gross Tonnage: 153,516
  • Length: 1,060 feet
  • Width: 135 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,079
  • Launched in 2017

Meraviglia Class

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Meraviglia Plus ships

MSC's mighty Meraviglia class brought the company into the realm of mega ships, welcoming over 6,000 passengers.

Termed as the ship for all seasons, the inside of the ship provides numerous amenities for guests to enjoy. The hub being a spectacular promenade with LED ceilings, spacious shopping areas, and plenty of food and beverage venues, as well as expanded MSC Yacht Club areas.

Ships:

MSC Euribia 

  • Gross Tonnage: 183,500
  • Length:  1,086 feet
  • Width: 141 feet
  • Number of passengers 6,327
  • To be launched in 2023

MSC Virtuosa

  • Gross Tonnage: 181,541
  • Length:  1,087 feet
  • Width: 141 feet
  • Number of passengers 6,334
  • Launched in 2021

MSC Grandiosa

  • Gross Tonnage: 181,541
  • Length:  1,094 feet
  • Width: 141 feet
  • Number of passengers 6,334
  • Launched in 2019

MSC Bellissima

  • Gross Tonnage: 171,598
  • Length: 1,034 feet
  • Width: 141 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,655
  • Launched in 2019

MSC Meraviglia

  • Gross Tonnage: 171,598
  • Length:  1,036 feet
  • Width: 141 feet
  • Number of passengers 5,642
  • Launched in 2017

Fantasia Class

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Fantasia

Although medium ships by today's standards, the Fantasia Class was a new generation of larger ships for MSC Cruises when launched. Notably, MSC Fantasia was the first ship to have the MSC Yacht Club. Referred to as the ship within ship concept, it provides guests with the ultimate in luxury with a butler, private restaurant, lounge, pool and unlimited drinks.

Ships:

MSC Preziosa

  • Gross Tonnage: 139,072
  • Length: 1,094 feet
  • Width: 124 feet
  • Number of passengers: 4,345
  • Launched in 2013

MSC Divina         

  • Gross Tonnage: 139,072
  • Length: 1,093 feet
  • Width: 124 feet
  • Number of passengers: 4,345
  • Launched in 2012

MSC Splendida

  • Gross Tonnage: 137,936
  • Length: 1,093 feet
  • Width: 134 feet
  • Number of passengers: 4,363
  • Launched in 2009

MSC Fantasia

  • Gross Tonnage: 137,936
  • Length: 1,094 feet
  • Width: 124 feet
  • Number of passengers: 4,363
  • Launched in 2008

Musica Class

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Poesia

With just over 3,000 passengers, the Musica class ships are still big enough to provide cruisers with desired amenities such as spas and great outdoor spaces, along with a good selection of food and beverage options. These ships mainly serve the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, in addition to a world cruise in 2023.

Ships:

MSC Magnifica

  • Gross Tonnage: 95,128
  • Length: 964 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers: 3,013
  • Launched in 2010

MSC Poesia

  • Gross Tonnage: 92,627
  • Length: 964 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers: 3,013
  • Launched in 2008

MSC Orchestra

  • Gross Tonnage: 92,409 
  • Length: 964 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers: 3,013
  • Launched in 2007

MSC Musica

  • Gross Tonnage: 92,409 
  • Length: 964 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers: 3,013
  • Launched in 2006

Lirica Class

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Lirica

These smaller cruise ships combine both European elegance and modern comforts. Serving Mediterranean routes and Grand Voyage itineraries, their size allows them to visit ports inaccessible to larger ships.

Ships:

MSC Lirica  

  • Gross Tonnage: 65,591
  • Length: 902 feet
  • Width: 94 feet
  • Number of passengers: 2,548
  • Launched in 2003

MSC Opera

  • Gross Tonnage: 65,591
  • Length: 902 feet
  • Width: 94 feet
  • Number of passengers: 2,579
  • Launched in 2004

MSC Sinfonia

  • Gross Tonnage: 65,542
  • Length: 902 feet
  • Width: 94 feet
  • Number of passengers: 2,546
  • Launched in 2002

MSC Armonia 

  • Gross Tonnage: 65,542
  • Length: 902 Feet
  • Width: 104 feet
  • Number of passengers: 2,520
  • Launched in 2001

Cabins and Suites

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MSC deluxe suite

As with most cruise lines, MSC Cruises has a wide selection of cabins across its fleet. Whether it be a cozy interior cabin or the ultimate deluxe suite, there is something for every traveler.

Interior Cabins

  • The smallest cabin options, interior rooms vary between 129 -301 square feet, depending on the ship. Perfect for cruisers who spend little time in their room and want good value for their money.
  • The Seaside class of ships offers deluxe and premium interior cabins of 150 square feet plus, and larger interior stateroom options accommodating up to 5 passengers.

Ocean View Cabins

  • A good option for those who want a view of the ocean and some natural light. This type of cabin is not as numerous and are often located on lower decks and range in size from 129 to 269 square feet.
  • For those passengers wanting more space, there are Junior Ocean View and Deluxe Ocean View cabins that accommodate up to 6 guests.

Balcony Cabins

  • Balcony cabins provide guests with extra space and a balcony; a must have for many cruisers. Basic balcony cabins (often referred to as Deluxe cabins) are the most common type on cruise ships, providing guests with many options, including different price points and locations.
  • Aurea Balcony cabins tend to be in the best locations, midship and above. Passengers should be aware that some deluxe balconies have partial obstructions or metal instead of glass balconies. Some ships, like the MSC Bellissima, offer a studio balcony, a bonus for solo cruisers.

Suites

  • MSC offers a range of suite options, separate from MSC Yacht Club, with perks like a larger balcony and a separate living area
  • Options include everything from junior suites to premium, grand and ultimate suites that feature two levels. Premium Suite Aurea accommodates up to 6 passengers while Grand Suites and 2 Bedroom Grand Suites provide even more space, with some having their own private hot tubs.

MSC Yacht Club Cabins and Suites

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MSC Yacht Club butler

When booking a cruise, MSC offers guests several options to enhance their cruise experience, and the top level is MSC Yacht Club. It is available for select cabins on many cruise ships across the fleet. Referred to as a ship within a ship concept, this is the ultimate in luxury for MSC cruisers. This all-inclusive style of cruising includes ungraded suites, personalized service and dedicated venues onboard such as a private lounge, restaurant and deck area. 

MSC Yacht Club suites include everything from beautifully appointed interior cabins to larger deluxe, and grand suites. For the ultimate in luxury there is the Owner’s Suites with an expansive floor plan including a separate living and dining area, a balcony with a private hot tub and lots of room to lounge.

Included with these staterooms are several MSC Yacht Club perks, some of the highlights:

  • Dedicated priority check-in and check-out
  • 24-hour butler and room service, as well as a dedicated concierge
  • 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 in the evening
  • Private and spacious pool deck, whirlpool baths, sunbathing area and an outdoor bar
  • Gourmet, Yacht Club restaurant with a la carte dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Additional Cabin Options

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MSC interior suite

For those guests wanting accessible cabins, MSC Cruises offers ADA compliant wheelchair accessible cabins throughout the ship; however, they are limited in number.

There are some attractive cabin options for larger families and groups who want to share space:

  • Super Family Plus cabins combine 3 connecting rooms (1 Inside and 2 Balcony cabins) for up to 10 guests
  • Super Family cabins combine 2 connecting balcony rooms for 6 guests
  • Family Balcony accommodations with 2 connecting cabins (1 Inside plus 1 Balcony or 1 Oceanview) for a maximum of 6 people
  • Solo travelers often face limited options when selecting cabins without additional costs. MSC’s Meraviglia offers single occupancy cabins, although less than 20 per ship.

MSC Experiences

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MSC Wellness Experience

When booking an MSC cruise, passengers can select from five distinct MSC Experiences beyond MSC Yacht Club. Highlights of the experiences:   

  • Bella Experience - Marketed for those cruisers who want good value and a pleasant stay, this tier is available with a balcony, ocean view, and interior staterooms. It includes basic cabin amenities.
  • Fantastica Experience: - Suited to those passengers looking for comfort and flexibility, this tier is available for suites, balcony, ocean view and inside cabins. It includes one free cruise change, the ability to select a cabin in superior locations, preferred dinner times and 20% off specialty restaurants.
  • Aurea Experience - For suites and balcony guests who desire a more all-inclusive vacation, this experience includes cabins in the best locations,  a discount on the drink package, access to a private solarium and priority boarding and luggage drop off.
  • MSC Wellness Experience - Available for any cabin type, this adult only experience caters to wellness enthusiasts, providing unique benefits such as personalized fitness schedules with a wide range of dedicated activities and facilities, complimentary internet access and on shore activities designed for wellness.

Dining

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Bella Experience

MSC cruise ships have numerous food venues to satisfy any number of  palettes and preferences. Buffets and the main dining rooms provide meals all day long, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, operating 20 hours a day.

They provide diverse food options such as Mediterranean and international cuisine, pasta and meat stations, healthy options, kids areas, takeout and desserts.

Although it varies by ship, MSC offers a diverse selection of specialty restaurants that include sushi, seafood, tapas, steakhouse and a French bistro, to name a few. They also have a partnership with Venchi 1878 Chocolate serving up gelato and crepes.

Specialty dining packages can be purchased pre-cruise for discounts, currently at 35%.

Drink Packages

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MSC Cruises Premium extra drink package

MSC also offers lots of choices with many lounges and bars, whether it be poolside, or for late night dancing.

A MSC drink package is a popular add- on for cruisers who want to save money or are worried about an unexpectedly large bill at the end of their cruise. Unlike a lot of cruise lines, guests can't bring any alcohol onboard an MSC cruise.

MSC Cruises offers its customers five different drink packages to suit various preferences and needs. Whether you want a few beer and a glass of wine, or a more extensive package that provide top shelf spirits, champagne, and specialty coffees, there is an package for everyone.  

Here is what you need to know about MSC’s drink packages.

  • Easy Package - The most basic drink package with select alcoholic beverages, the Easy Package includes Heineken draught beer and Miller Lite (bottle), house wines by the glass, some cocktails, soda/ pop by the glass, juice, bottled water and specialty coffees.
  • The Easy Plus Package offers a broader selection of drinks that can be used at specialty restaurants. Beyond the Easy Package, it includes spirits, liqueurs, and mineral water.
  • Premium Extra Package - This package offers the largest selection of drinks and beverages, a great idea for those who want a worry free cruise. It encompasses everything from champagne to craft beers, and can be used at specialty restaurants.
  • Alcohol-Free Package - A good option for those cruisers who want a broad selection of non-alcoholic drinks. It includes a selection of alcohol-free cocktails/ mocktails, energy drinks, water, juice and coffee.
  • Minors Package - This package is for minors from 3-20 years of age on itineraries in North America and the Caribbean. For sailings in Europe it applies to guests 3-17 years of age. It includes popular items such as pop/ soda, water, juice, specialty coffees, tea and hot chocolate

Activities and Entertainment

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F1 simulator on MSC

MSC ships offer plenty of activities onboard, with a variety of entertainment acts.

For fun, cruisers can enjoy pools, waterparks, sports activities, F1 simulators, MSC RoboCoaster, MSC Sports Plex with bumper cars and rollerblade arena, bowling and 5D theatres.

For evening shows, some of major highlights include the world-renowned Cirque de Soleil, which uniquely designed productions for MSC Cruises. Beyond this, there are Broadway shows and lots of live entertainment. Adults can enjoy Central Promenade with spacious shopping areas, restaurants and bars, spas and other adult only zones.

Families and Kids

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Kids on MSC cruise ship

Kids clubs are included in the MSC cruise fare and are a great way to entertain kids and give parents a break. This is a perfect opportunity for them to have fun on their own and meet new friends in a dedicated, supervised environment for cruisers ages 3-17. There is a baby club for 3 and under that is currently not being offered.

Read more: Why MSC Cruises are good for families

MSC Cruises has a partnership with the famous Danish company LEGO, providing kids with a one of a kind experience. While onboard, passengers enjoy LEGO Day, an entire day dedicated to fun LEGO activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Beyond kids clubs and family friendly activities, MSC Cruises makes cruising easier with their kids sail free promotion, which runs all year long. Children under 18 travel for free as long as they are in the same cabin as their parents.  

Wi-fi and Internet

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MSC wifi

MSC Cruises provides two main options for cruisers wanting to have access to the internet while onboard:

  • Browse Internet Cruise Package – the basic package, it includes unlimited data with 24 hour a day access. It is best suited for browsing, sending/receiving emails and images, as well as chatting on messenger apps like WhatsApp.

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

  • Browse & Stream Cruise Package- this provides a better quality/ speed of internet. It includes unlimited data, with 24 hour a day access. It is best suited for browsing the web, sending and receiving emails and images, chatting on messenger apps such as WhatsApp, and video chat. It also better suited to streaming music, videos, and posting to social media.

Another bonus is the MSC for Me app has free messaging. The app is available on android or apple devices and is perfect for families who want to let their kids have some independence but can still check in once and while.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Private Island)

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MSC Ocean Cay aerial hero

Port excursions can add a lot of cost to a cruise vacation, but a visit to MSC's private island lets guests enjoy a complimentary day in the sun, including food.  Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Ocean Cay) is located in the western Bahamas, 20 miles south of Bimini.

Once an industrial site, MSC has redeveloped the island into a serene paradise for its cruise guests. The newly transformed retreat offers cruisers the opportunity to get an authentic island experience with 8 beaches and water activities that feature the restored marine life of the area.

One great benefit to visiting Ocean Cay is its late night activities. Evening events include unique options such as stargazing, glow in the dark paddle boarding, and nighttime cruises. A great way to experience the island from a different perspective. (Although some activities are currently on hold due to pandemic restrictions)

MSC Voyagers Club

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MSC status match

MSC offers cruisers a loyalty program with perks based on points accumulated. One great feature of this program is Status Matching. For those guests who have accumulated loyalty program status with another cruise line, hotel or travel operator, they can apply to MSC for a status match with MSC Voyagers Club.

There is no fee to do this, but it can only be done once, so guests should carefully consider which program is the most valuable. Ideally, this should be completed 7-10 prior to sailing, to ensure the status is recognized. The application can be found on the MSC Cruises website. 

MSC guests accumulate points by cruising, with cumulative benefits as they proceed through the tiers:

  • Welcome Membership pre-cruise:  0 points
  • Classic Membership: 1 to 2,199 points; some of the best perks include a 5% discount on cruise farea, discounts on Wi-fi, F1 simulator, spa and fitness activities.
  • Silver membership: 2,200 to 4,299 points includes double points on bookings 12 months in advance and 50 €/$ onboard credit
  • Gold Membership: 4,300 to 9,999 points offers members priority disembarkation in ports with tender, and discounts on Wi-fi, laundry and onboard pictures.
  • Diamond Membership:10,000 and up, the highest level provides for a dinner at a specialty restaurant,  priority boarding, in cabin perks, and more discounts on onboard purchases and laundry.

Points are awarded for cruises sailed, with more points being given for higher level experiences and the length of cruise.

Bella Experience

  • 200 points for a cruise under 6 days
  • 500 points for a cruise between 6-10 days
  • 700 points for a cruise of 10+ days

Fantastica Experience

  • 400 points for a cruise under 6 days
  • 700 points for a cruise between 6-10 days
  • 1,000 points for a cruise of 10+ days

Aurea Experience

  • 600 points for a cruise under 6 days
  • 1,000 points for a cruise between 6-10 days
  • 1,500 points for a cruise of 10+ days

MSC Yacht Club Experience  

  • 800 points for a cruise under 6 days
  • 1,500 points for a cruise between 6-10 days
  • 2,0000 points for a cruise of 10+ days

Pre-cruise purchases: guests earn 100 points for every 150 €/$ of purchases, such as MSC packages and services) made prior to the cruise. Dining and drink packages are popular pre-cruise expenditures. Onboard spending: guests earn 100 points for every 150 €/$ spent on board, excluding the casino.

What you need to know about MSC Cruises

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MSC for Me

Before sailing on MSC, here are some important points to highlight:

  • Value - MSC Cruises offers competitive pricing and discounts, with numerous itineraries and types of ships worldwide. The Kids Sail Free program and other aged discounts for under 30 and guests over 65, make cruising even more affordable.
  • Choice - Their diverse fleet caters to every type of cruiser, whether you want a smaller, more intimate ship, or one with all of the bells and whistles modern cruises expect with mega ships.
  • Add on costs - There are extra costs, not included in the cruise fare, such as gratuities, some food and beverages, specialty restaurants, internet packages and spa treatments, to name a few. Although most shows are included, Cirque de Soleil is not.
  • Some of the fun family activities can also have an extra cost. The cruise fare does not include popular activities such as the F1 Simulator, bowling, VR Maze, and video games. Parents and guests can purchase Fun Pass Package to cover most of these.

Read more: MSC Cruises Tips & Tricks

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