MSC Cruise Reviews: What To Expect Cruising With MSC

If you have looked into going on a cruise in the US you may have noticed a cruise line you didn’t see before with very affordable fares in the Caribbean. While MSC Cruises is new to the Caribbean, they have been around for decades.

With 23 large cruise ships and itineraries to almost every corner of the globe, MSC Cruises has become a major player in the cruise line industry. Founded in Italy in 1970, this Swiss-based cruise company has a strong presence in Europe, with a strong customer base that’s been steadily growing in the United States as well thanks to their lower prices. 

MSC Bellissima

Seeing the low prices, you may wonder what to expect on an MSC Cruise. We’ve combed MSC Cruise reviews left by former passengers to find out what they loved about MSC cruises, and where they thought there was room for improvement so you have all the pertinent information before you book. 

MSC Cruises Affordability

Families especially enjoy MSC Cruises. Not only has the company established itself as one of the leading cruise lines for families in Europe, but it’s garnering a strong following among Americans, too, because of its affordability.

Prices are much lower compared to popular American cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruises, and Carnival, and tier pricing lets you forgo some of the higher-end amenities if you don’t need them. Plus, children can sail for free or at discounted rates, depending on their age.  

MSC Seashore’s first call at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – Photo credit Conrad Schutt

MSC Cruise Pricing Tiers

MSC has 4 pricing levels. The lowest level, called Bella, comes with no inclusions (not even room service) and has limited dining options, but covers all entertainment and most activities. And while Bella guests can request a seating time for dinner, priority will be given to higher-tier passengers. Also, Bella rooms usually only offer partial ocean views. 

Fantastica is the next level up and comes with better rooms, preferred seating time, and free room service between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

The 3rd tier, Aurea, includes a drink package, select spa services, and access to exclusive areas. There is a welcome package with Prosecco and Chocolate, access to the Top Exclusive Solarium, and you can dine whenever you want.

The highest tier, the MSC Yacht Club Experience package, is for guests who want a more luxurious experience. MSC Yacht Club passengers stay in large suites with 24-hour butler service, have their own personal concierge, unlimited drinks, access to a private dining room, and priority check-in and disembarkation.  

MSC Cruise Experience

Their ships and itineraries are designed with families in mind, and there are plenty of activities and entertainment options available for children and parents. Spend time together in family cabins and take advantage of kid-friendly dining options and onboard activities. The Kids Club and Baby Club onboard every ship let parents reconnect over a delicious meal, try their luck in the casino, or indulge in a couples spa treatment. 

MSC Virtuosa – Photo credit: Urania Martin for MSC Cruises

Guests also enjoy the variety of entertainment programs and events on offer. Most of the live shows are family-friendly and include Broadway theatre performances, theme parties, dance classes, a zip line and a Himalayan bridge, a waterpark and swimming pools, a bowling alley, an F1 simulator, an arcade and games room, and a 4D cinema. If you want the Bella tier pricing and access to all the activities, you can purchase an MSC Fun Pass separately. Buy before you sail to save 20%. 

What Cruises Don’t Like About MSC Cruises

MSC’s prices are great for families on a budget, but some cruisers have been left disappointed with mid-range amenities for mid-range prices. Along with small rooms that felt crowded for larger groups, reviews mention rough and scratchy bedding and towels and some plumbing issues in their cabins, but also note that staff were responsive and attentive when issues arose. 

Carousel Productions at Sea, Sweet – A Treat for the Imagination; photo credit: Ivan Sarfatti

There were also some complaints about the food, especially the dining choices provided with all tickets. While higher-end restaurants received better reviews, many passengers criticized the included eateries’ meals for being decent but bland and made with low-quality ingredients. Portion sizes were also smaller than you would get on an American ship. 

Finally, customer service was a point of contention among passengers used to traveling with US-based cruiseliners. Remember, MSC is a company that grew out of Europe, where customer service tends to be less obtrusive, which some cruisers might mistake as inattentive if they’re used to a more doting American approach. Some other reviews suggest that there wasn’t enough staff onboard to adequately meet the demands of the passengers, but these reviews were evenly balanced with positive comments that commended cruise staff that were quick to respond once issues were brought to their attention.  

The Bottom Line

Based on previous reviews, it appears that some passengers aboard MSC cruise ships are seeking exceptional service and amenities, despite potentially paying a lower rate than what they would typically pay on a premium American cruise. If you’re willing to forgo some luxury in order to save money, MSC is a great choice. For families with young kids, MSC provides a great cruise experience at an affordable rate. 

MSC Euribia (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Cruises)

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