An Introduction to: MSC Cruises
March 2, 2015
MSC are the Med experts of the cruise world and offer passengers a relaxed voyage of discovery with their distinctive Mediterranean flair. Despite having one of the youngest fleets at sea – with twelve ships that have an average age of only five years – MSC have a grand heritage and knowledge of sailing.
Their cruises formally started in Naples in 1995 and have grown rapidly into one of the world’s largest cruising lines – The Mediterranean Shipping Company (get the name now?). MSC was created by the Aponte family, who have been transporting goods on ships for over 300 years.
With a fleet of twelve ships sailing to seventy two countries and two hundred and nine ports of call, MSC offer cruises of between two and thirty three nights at sea.
Embodying the spirit of the Mediterranean has meant that their cruises allow passengers to relax and enjoy a laid back experience with all the added luxuries and entertainment options that make your cruise the holiday of a life time.
Meet the fleet
MSC have three classes of ship –
Fantasia class: MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia
Musica class: MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra and MSC Musica
Lirica class: MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, and MSC Lirica
The MSC Preziosa is the newest MSC ship and can carry up to 4345 guests. The smallest is the MSC Lirica, which takes 2065 passengers.
As of 2017 MSC will have two new classes in their fleet: Seaside Class and Vista Class (this will entail MSC Seaside due for delivery December 2017, and MSC Meraviglia due for delivery April 2017). 2019 and 2010 will also bring the new Meraviglia Plus ships to the fleet.
Did you know? These new ships launching in 2017 and 2018 and will be the largest ever built by MSC!
Is there a “typical” MSC traveller?
MSC cruises are ideal for holiday makers who want to experience the culture of the Med, whether this be families, couples or singles. They aim to give passengers holiday memories to treasure by delivering a voyage they won’t forget.
Did you know? If you are a sun lover then MSC is perfect for you as they have more balcony cabins than any other cruise line!
If pampering is your thing then try out the Aurea class of accommodation which offers spa privileges and peace of mind. If you crave exclusivity then try the MSC Yacht Club.
Their décor is modern and stylish, with features like glass fronted lifts, floor to ceiling windows for a panoramic ocean view and the use of Italian marble, leaving you feeling like you are in a modern hotel. If cleanliness is important to you than you’ll be pleased to know that out of all the major cruise lines they are also known as the cleanest, thanks to their high staff to passenger ratio.
The question is, why wouldn’t you want to travel with MSC?!
MSC Yacht Club
Sit back, relax and get away from it all with MSC Yacht Club.
If ultra-luxury and exclusivity is what you’re after then the MSC Yacht Club on-board Fantasia class ships will suit you! This select area caters to only a small number of luxurious suites, giving you an indulgent, extravagant voyage. You can have the intimate small ship experience, whilst enjoying all the amenities of a large ship.
We’ve all gone to the pool in the morning on a cruise only to find it is already swamped with children, families and other keen cruisers. On MSC Yacht Club you can side step this problem by having your own exclusive pool! You will also have two whirlpool baths and a sun deck – a perfect oasis of calm away from the rest of the ship.
Other great features of this class of accommodation include a private butler service. Your butler can unpack and re-pack your suitcase for you, change your towels twice a day, shine your shoes, deliver your favourite newspaper, give you priority check-in and out as well as serving you afternoon tea every day! You can even get your butler to open the tax & duty free shopping facilities out of hours, allowing you to shop at your own pace in a quiet environment.
In short – you’ll be treated like royalty! You can also create your own shore-excursions and explore without the rest of the passengers, as well as enjoying priority debarkation.
A private lift will take you down to the MSC Aurea Spa where you will have discounted treatments and a private Thermal Suite area. Your dedicated concierge service can make your spa reservations for you and there is also a private library.
MSC Yacht Club provides gourmet restaurants only available to their guests, allowing you to dine in style and comfort at any time you choose. The One Bar is a private bar, similarly only available to Yacht Club, for the ultimate intimate experience! The Top Sail Lounge additionally offers a panoramic view of the sea in style with breakfasts, buffets and lunches and waiter service available.
Suite amenities include superior mattresses, fine sheets of Egyptian cotton, a pillow menu (read more about that here!) a marble bathroom, plasma TV, ample mini bar, available laptops and a games console.
There are additional MSC Yacht Club Deluxe suites, which aim to cater for guests with disabilities, that have more available space inside rooms.
Did you know? You’ll find an amazing Swarovski Crystal staircase in the Yacht Club that’ll dazzle all guests that walk up or down!
There is plenty of entertainment aboard MSC to keep you busy and don’t think that MSC will only have shows and entertainment in Italian because this isn’t the case! All entertainment will cater to English speaking guests and many shows will be non-lingual and focus on spectacle to accommodate a variety of nationalities. It’ll be a feast for the eyes; think of shows like Cirque de Soleil where language isn’t necessary!
MSC ships boast many cutting edge technologies such as a Formula 1 simulator (letting you be Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon), a 4D cinema (showing the latest blockbusters) and a bowling alley.
If you’re feeling active (or need to work off some of that delicious cruise food you had the day before) then you can get involved in basketball, football, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. Fitness and sports equipment is there for you to use so why not try your hand at squash, mini golf or table football? Lessons are available for aerobics, Zumba and Aquagym and there are, of course, full state of the art gym facilities on-board.
Sun and fun worshippers will appreciate the choice of up to 5 swimming pools, adult only solarium with retractable roof (on MSC Fantasia class ships) and the longest single body waterslide at sea (available on MSC Prezosia.)
The shops available include many high end stores such as Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren. Other boutiques on MSC are the MSC logo shop, a candy store, a pool boutique, photo gallery and tax-free goods shops.
MSC Show Time provide over eighty original shows across the fleet with no less than six shows performed per cruise. One will be an elegant French-style variety show, one musical show and four theme shows with a full cast, dancers and spectacular features including acrobats, contortionists, magicians, mimes and many others. Evening activities included 70s nights, a White Party, Carnival party, karaoke and many more. You’ll also find dance orchestras, classical string quartets, jazz quintets, piano recitals, country & western and pop music on MSC.
Europeans certainly know how to party and MSC host a weekly Sailaway party celebrating the ship’s departure with a costume flag parade led by the entertainment team and dance troupe. There are also Sea Parties which include team game shenanigans, water games, group dances and a sea toast.
If a relaxing with a cocktail is more what you’re after, then try out some of MSC’s many bars and lounges. Options include a jazz bar, piano bar, cigar room, coffee bar, sports bar, spa bar or Irish and English pubs. You certainly have plenty of choices to find the perfect atmosphere to relax in!
If that isn’t relaxing enough then visit the on-board MSC Aurea Spa and have a relaxing massage or treatment.
If you fancy learning something new then why not try yoga, dance lessons or language lessons. You could learn to play cards and then try your hand at the on-board casino, or even enjoy arts and crafts classes and make bracelets, greeting cards and try t-shirt painting.
Did you know? You can join in a Superchef cookery challenge, where you have to create a dish selected from a speciality restaurant and have your efforts judged by the restaurants chef!
One of the most common misconceptions about MSC cruises is that all the food will be Italian, but this is not the case! Of course you can enjoy a pizza or pasta dish if you want to (and it’ll be the finest you’d find outside of Italy!) but there’s a huge range of alternative selection.
You can sample Mexican fajitas, French foie gras or Asian dim sum! The main dining rooms serve a variety of foods including Italian and International cuisine with the buffets giving you even more choice.
If Italian food is your thing then enjoy the feasts of pizza, pasta and Italian breads (including bruschetta, foraccia and panettone.) Other Italian touches include parmesan wheels and a daily risotto speciality. MSC’s emphasis is on fresh produce as well as flavor, with all pizza dough made freshly on-board the ships, as well as freshly made pasta readily available. Almost all of their ingredients are sourced in Europe.
Have you ever had an ice-cream and wished you had a cocktail in your hand? (Maybe that’s just us…) Well MSC have let you combine the two! You can have cocktails, patisserie and ice-cream from the Piazza Del Doge on-board the MSC Divina. If you simply do just want an ice-cream, grab one from The Gelateria!
Dining works in a fairly traditional style of set eating times and seatmates with a choice of two evening sittings. Alternatively, you can enjoy the buffet or go to one of the select dining venues. The select restaurants vary ship to ship- the MSC Divina, Fantasia and Splendida features Tex-Mex, MSC Musica and Poesia features Japanese and sushi, and MSC Magnifica and Orchestra showcases Chinese cuisine. All are available with an a la carte menu and cover charge.
MSC will cater to guests with special dietary requirements such as gluten free, kosher, diary and lactose free, low and no fat and low sodium.
Coffee and teas are offered 24 hours a day and to help keep the cost of all your drinks down you can also purchase drinks packages from MSC before you travel. Examples of these packages include a soda package (perfect for kids), a European beer package or a cocktail package.
MSC is well equipped to cater for family holidays and give you and your family a holiday to remember. They have the cheapest family rates going with kids under the age of 18 often going completely free! (Although they will have to pay port charges – these usually only come to £100!)
A specialised kid’s pool is also available on MSC Fantasia, Magnifica and Splendida, and MSC Armonia offers an outdoor spray park (a water park of water jets, musical fountains and slides for kids to play in.)
Whilst you head off to the spa or sun-deck, your kids can enjoy the free kids clubs and make plenty of new friends.
There’s five different types of child care available, each tailored to children’s needs:
Baby Time – for those under the age of three. They can play with colorful toys, enjoy the baby disco, play musical games, puzzle games and draw.
Mini Club – for children aged three to six years old that are fully potty trained. They have their own dedicated and colorful play area which is a safe environment for them to play games and watch cartoons. They can also enjoy the 4D cinema, F1 racing simulator, Aqua Park, Vertigo water slide, the virtual world games arcade and mini bowling.
Juniors Club – catering to seven to eleven year olds. It gets kids involved in team games, sports, pizza parties, arts and crafts, board games and video games. They also have their own dedicated area to get involved in activities and tournaments.
Y-Team – for those aged twelve to fourteen. The Y-Team arrange events for them to enjoy in the dedicated teen area whilst offering games and sports tournaments, an internet point, dedicated teen disco, Virtual World arcade and a water slide reserved for teens (available on selected ships).
MSC Generation Teen Club – for fifteen to seventeen year olds. The teenagers can enjoy their own Xbox, Wii, musical docking station for iPhones, iPods, iPads and USB readers as well as a social corner connected to NetTv with Bluetooth keyboards.
MSC kids’ club mascot, the musical and magical Doremi will make appearances at kids’ clubs activities and on embarkation days.
Each ship has a number of prams that are available to hire, bottle warmers are available on-board and warm milk is available from room service, at a charge.
You can even purchase and pre-pay a “Teen Card” so your kids can buy what they like, for example ice cream or drinks, without having to come to you for money. Perfect to give them a taste of independence! (Don’t worry about older teens misbehaving as these cards cannot be used to purchase alcohol!)
Speaking of taste, the food served in restaurants also caters to children, with children’s menus serving pizza, hot dogs and burgers (as well as a few healthy options!) The Fun Time Dinners combine buffet dinner with entertainment staff, to the delight of children. Alternatively you could take advantage of the Happy Dinners, where children will have finished their meal by the time you are on your starter, allowing you to enjoy the rest of your meal as your kids are escorted to the Mini-Club by the entertainment staff.
Did you know? MSC have also teamed up with LEGO to give your children a chance to play with some of the best toys in some of the best play rooms at sea. One day of selected voyages will feature The Lego Experience On Board – an entire day of LEGO activities for the kids to enjoy! (Available on MSC Armonia.)
Missing being able to read your favourite newspaper? Then order it from your ship and it will be available, printed in the same format as you would find it on land. Just like that!
Missing the comforts of home and being able to snuggle up to a film in bed? Then don’t worry – MSC offer film packages to subscribe to so you can enjoy a movie night in your pj’s!
There is an on-board Photo Service available throughout your cruise, as professional photographers snap away to capture some of your trips highlights. Ever wanted a picture of you and the ship’s captain on a Gala night? The photo team will make this happen! Giving you a perfect souvenir of your trip.
Each standard room comes equipped with a safe and you have access to a laundry service. There is even a post office on-board should you need one. As you might expect from a Mediterranean company, the on-board currency is in Euros.
Did you know? Rest assured that MSC cruises are more environmentally friendly than most cruise lines due to their energy saving air con and recycling procedures on board! They were even the first company to be awarded “7 golden pearls” for environmental care by Bureau Veritas and received Cleanship 2 Class notation for advanced air, water and waste treatment systems.
Dress codes are a little more relaxed on MSC than other lines, but you’ll still want to bring a fancy frock or two with you!
MSC recommends you bring plenty of casual wear for excursions, as well as informal clothing for meals (meaning summery dresses for women and a lightweight jacket for men.) For the Gala evening and parties you should bring formal wear, including cocktail dresses for the ladies and a lightweight suit or dinner jacket for men.
If your excursions travel to religious sites, remember to bring cover ups such as sweaters or shawls and longer trousers or skirts to cover the knees.
You can find additional information about what to wear in your daily programme, which is a guide delivered to your cabin the day before the day or evening in question. You can also check before you sail if you have any theme nights to dress for and what you should wear to them.
Did you know? MSC even sail to the North Pole – so remember to pack a few woolly jumpers and scarfs if you plan to travel there!
The tips vary cruise to cruise, but are usually between $3 and $6 per night for children (over three years old) and between $6 and $12 per night for adults. A 15% bar service charge is automatically added to all purchases and there’s also a 15% charge for spa services purchased on-board and is payable at the end of your cruise.
Your gratuities will be given to the staff that have looked after you, including those that work behind the scenes to ensure that you remember your holiday for the right reasons. It is also possible to pre-pay the gratuities before you go to help you budget whilst you are on holiday.
All gratuities are removable – you just need to remember to ask! Just approach the staff Guest Relations Manager on-board and you can edit your grats at your own discretion.
That was everything you need to know about cruising with MSC! Which ship is your favorite? Have you sailed with MSC before? What do you love about them? Leave us your thoughts below!
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