MSC Musica in Venice
MSC Musica in Venice / MSC Crociere
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MSC Fantasia's Deck
MSC Fantasia's Deck / MSC
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MSC Preziosa's Vertigo
MSC Preziosa's Vertigo / MSC Crociere / P. Pina
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MSC Opera's Splash Park
MSC Opera's Splash Park / MSC
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MSC Poesia's Pool
MSC Poesia's Pool / MSC
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Eataly / MSC Crociere / I. Sarfatti
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Pasta at Eataly Steakhouse
Pasta at Eataly Steakhouse / MSC Crociere
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MSC Divina's Caffe Italia
MSC Divina's Caffe Italia / MSC
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4D Theater on MSC Splendida
4D Theater on MSC Splendida / MSC
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F1 Simulator on MSC Fantasia
F1 Simulator on MSC Fantasia / MSC
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MSC Lirica's Gym
MSC Lirica's Gym / MSC
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Aquacycling on MSC Divina
Aquacycling on MSC Divina / MSC
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MSC Armonia's Kids Club
MSC Armonia's Kids Club / MSC
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MSC Splendida's One Pool Bar
MSC Splendida's One Pool Bar / MSC
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MSC Sinfonia's Pizza and Pasta Bar
MSC Sinfonia's Pizza and Pasta Bar / MSC
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Balcony Stateroom on MSC Magnifica
Balcony Stateroom on MSC Magnifica / MSC
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Oceanview Stateroom on MSC Opera
Oceanview Stateroom on MSC Opera / MSC
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MSC Preziosa's Spa
MSC Preziosa's Spa / MSC
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MSC Yacht Club
MSC Yacht Club / MSC
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MSC Divina
MSC Divina / MSC
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MSC Cruises

Our Review

MSC Cruises’ ships feel thoroughly European: The Swiss-based cruise line with Italian roots has partnerships with brands like Venini glassworks, Swarovski crystal, and Lego toys, and its big, glittery ships carry primarily European travelers in the Mediterranean. Over the past decade, however, the company has shifted focus to this side of the world, staking a claim in North America by offering budget-friendly cruises to the Caribbean. MSC Divina sails there in winter and the cruise line’s four Seaside-class ships — MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Seashore, and MSC Seascape — were designed to cater to North American sensibilities; they rotate between Europe and the Caribbean (from Miami and Port Canaveral, and, in 2025, Galveston). In 2023, MSC also moved MSC Meraviglia to the U.S. market with sailings from New York. The 2025 debut of MSC World America, the sibling of 2022’s 5,262-guest MSC World Europa, will add even more to the brand’s U.S. presence.   

What We Love

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve: This private island, located in the Bahamas, is visited on all Bahamas and Caribbean sailings. MSC cleaned up and rehabilitated the 95-acre island, transforming a former dump site for scrap metal into a welcoming spot to enjoy the sun and sand. The cruise line planted 75,000 plants and shrubs and 5,000 trees and palms. They also relocated 400 coral colonies and created a 64-square-mile marine reserve. Ocean Cay offers live music, multiple white-sand beaches, food trucks and grills, shops, and a fun post-sunset light show on the island’s lighthouse.

The MSC Yacht Club: These ship-within-a-ship luxury enclaves, available on newer MSC vessels launched over the past decade, include private lounges, butler service, complimentary beverages, and an exclusive pool area and restaurant. These intimate spaces aren’t quite budget-friendly, but are welcome escapes from the crowds on the rest of the ship — you won’t have to fight for a lounge chair on the pool deck or wait in an interminable line at the buffet.

Best Known For

Affordable Pricing: When booking an MSC cruise, travelers who can’t splurge on Yacht Club accommodations have the option of a low-cost, cruise-only fare or a “best-value” fare that bundles a basic drinks package, Wi-Fi, and a $50 onboard credit. Those who don’t drink or only plan to have one or two cocktails a day can get on board a new ship such as MSC Seashore for a cruise-only fare for an Inside stateroom that’s often under $200 per person for a 3-night Bahamas sailing or under $425 per person for a 7-night Caribbean cruise on MSC Seaside.

Over-the-Top Design: Whether you love the incredibly bold decor (think lounges decked out in zebra print and neon-pink nightclubs) or hate it, you have to appreciate that there’s nothing boring about these ships. The sparkly Swarovski crystal staircases in the atrium of newer vessels are the setting for many selfies. (The infinity pool on newer ships is cool, too.)

Celebrating Italy: The divine Italian specialties on board range from espresso to Parmesan cheese. Most noteworthy: the fabulous Venchi 1878 chocolate and gelato available on Seaside-class ships.

Who It's Best For

Travelers With European Sensibility: MSC is a European line with mostly European guests, so many of your fellow passengers might not speak English and tend to linger a long time over dinner. English is always spoken by most crew members (announcements may be in multiple languages, however) and sailings that originate in the U.S. tend to have a higher percentage of Americans and Canadians on board.

Sophisticated Partygoers: You won’t necessarily find frat house-type antics and all-night beer-guzzling on these ships. But that doesn’t mean quiet nights, either. The volume and energy are still high, with much of the revelry revolving around dancing to live bands playing different genres of music, with the participation of an animation team on the dance floor. It’s rare to stumble across a lounge that’s disappointingly dead or a roomful of merrymakers who don’t have a sense of rhythm (lessons are available to cure cases of two left feet). The nightlife is also a family affair: You may find that even the little ones are out celebrating way past their bedtime.

Families: MSC line has a partnership with Chicco to provide strollers, travel cribs, and high chairs to passengers, while a Lego partnership means playrooms full of bricks for free play as well as competitions. The ships also have splash parks and water slides to keep kids busy, and teens get their own spa menu. MSC also runs generous promotions where on select sailings children can stay with their parents for no extra charge.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

You May Experience Service Issues: Many Americans find the European-style service slower and a bit ... indifferent. MSC has worked to get service levels to better match the expectations of the U.S. market, but given its ever-larger ships and super-affordable cruise fares, passengers seem to have come to accept that service may be lacking.

Ship Size (and Amenities) Vary: With each launch, vessels get bigger and flashier. Not all of the signature amenities are available fleetwide, however, and food quality/selection and entertainment options on older ships do not necessarily match that of newer ships