10 Things to know before going on an MSC Cruise

The cruise line that is becoming more well-known has prices that are hard to beat by other cruise lines. Is it worth the price or do you get what you pay for? Find out the 10 things to know before going on an MSC cruise!

What do you need to know before you sail?

‘Let’s go again’ vs. ‘I’m never going again’. After our first trip on the MSC Meraviglia out of Port Canaveral in November, I said I would never go again. Scott convinced me to try it again and 28 days later we were on board sailing out to sea to give her a second chance! Here are our top ten takeaways to help you decide if this is the right cruise for you. And will we go back?? It depends on who you ask!😉

#1 Take the 4 nights MSC cruise, not the 3-night MSC cruise

We’ve done both and the difference was shocking! If you’re sailing out of Port Canaveral, the 4-day cruise ship leaves on Sunday and gets back on Thursday. The 3-day cruise ship leaves on Thursday and gets back on Sunday. The passengers count over the weekend is much higher, many more kids sailing, much busier! Overall it’s a different vibe, which stands to reason because it is over a weekend.

Fun Fact: MSC means the Mediterannina Shipping Company and it’s the name given in honour of the cargo company who started MSC Cruises.

#2 Muster is a Ship show

While we do understand the safety requirements for ships in the unlikely event of an emergency at sea, we have been on cruise lines that have their ‘ship’ together. 🙃

Shortly before sailing, MSC announced that Muster was to begin. We were all instructed to go to our rooms and watch a safety briefing. After this, we were all told to go to our designated muster stations. The whole ship. At the same time. It was insane!

This reminded us of how they used to assemble muster back in the day when everyone had to go to their station with a life vest and line up on the deck!

We prefer the cruise lines that have figured out how to stagger the drill to avoid overcrowding. It makes for a much smoother first day!

#3: Specialty dining is NOT everything on the menu like other cruise lines

We purchased the Specialty dining package and it came as a big surprise that each restaurant had a VERY limited selection of items at the top of the menu that were included in our package. All other menu items were available for an additional fee.

We found this aspect of our dining experience to be less than satisfactory, as we had already paid extra for the privilege of dining in these establishments. In contrast, other cruise lines tend to offer most items on the menu as part of the upgrade, with only a few specialty items requiring an additional charge.

The only exception to this trend was Tepanaki, which allowed us to choose from the full menu, with only a few specialty items requiring an additional charge.

#4: MSC’s private island in Ocean Cay is amazing! (Bahamas)

The island boasts a stunning natural environment with crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. It’s a small island that’s located in the Bimini district of the Bahamas.

MSC has carefully curated the island to ensure that its guests have everything they need to relax and unwind, with numerous lounging areas, bars, and restaurants available. There are plenty of first come first serve chairs and umbrellas. For a nominal charge, you also have the option to rent chairs and cabanas.

Pro Tip: Get off the ship early to reserve any of the complimentary chairs and umbrellas

The island also offers a variety of entertainment options, including live music and performances, ensuring that there is always something to do. There are multiple shore excursions available for purchase like, jet ski or snorkel tours. We recommend you discover and make Lighthouse Beach part of your itinerary. It is simply stunning and offers calm tranquil waters that are perfect for a day at the beach.

If you are visiting Ocean Cay on your voyage the ship will stay parked there overnight! This is certainly a unique experience that other cruise lines do not offer. At night there is always a gorgeous lighthouse show and party.

#5: There is an adult-only pool and hot tub

We love that MSC offers an adults-only pool and bar on many of its ships, providing guests with a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the main pool areas.

On the MSC Meraviglia, the Horizon pool (adults only) is located aft of the ship, deck 16. Horizon overlooks the wake of the ship, there’s a small plunge pool, as well as lots of loungers and chairs arranged amphitheater style facing out to sea. The aft view of the ship is both stunning and relaxing!

The bar adjacent to the pool serves a range of drinks, including signature cocktails and your typical cruise ship drinks. Overall this area is a great place to spend time. Definitely add it to your itinerary!

#6: The entertainment on board is BAD

Cruise ship entertainment is hit or miss with us. We’re not huge fans of the typical production shows in the main theatre. How many times can we hear a cover of “We will rock you” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Now if that’s your thing, no hate from us, you would likely enjoy the MSC cruise entertainment in the main theatre!

MSC cruise line does offer their Carousel Productions at Sea in the Carousel Lounge. The lounge can accommodate up to 400 guests, each show will last 40 minutes. The show is an additional charge of $17 and includes a “Signature Cocktail”. Both the Rock Circle show and House of Houdini were good! They featured great singers, circus acts, dancers, and musicians. The signature cocktail, however, was a big disappointment.

#7: Hallways are a maze on this cruise line!

If you’ve cruised on other cruise lines before, this is a big difference. The way the ship is designed, some of the balcony cabins “bump out” from the ship. When walking the hallways toward your room creates a feeling of twists and turns.

Even more unique are the hallways at the back of the ship. There is an additional hallway in the center to accommodate more interior rooms. We had a cabin in the aft of the ship, and every night it felt like we were getting lost in the hallway.

To make matters worse, there is a very odd way the rooms are numbered. It is not sequential and felt impossible to figure out! Also, with only two elevator banks, you could do a lot of walking, depending on your cabin location.

#8 They missed the boat on common areas and seating

This was another odd surprise. For such a beautiful ship, many common seating areas were just awkward! Bars on the main levels felt like they were tucked away. The seating was modern in style and many of the chairs and barstools sacrificed design over comfort. Some were even un-sitable(if that’s a word)!

On other cruise lines, the Atrium area is the heart of the ship and a location where we like to have a drink or gather before dinner. On the Meraviglia, seating was very limited in this area. They did have live music in the evening, however, the overall experience left us disappointed.

#9: Wifi is good on MSC cruises

MSC regularly runs specials that include drinks and wifi in your cruise rate. In our experience, the wifi has been on par with other cruise lines like Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. If you’ve experienced wifi on a cruise line, you know that the speeds are not close to your home or work internet connection. We like to use the wifi to stay in touch with family and work back home as well as some social media posting. MSC Cruises gave us an acceptable level of service for our needs.

#10: Let’s talk Food and drinks on MSC cruise ships

MSC is an Italian cruise line and the Pizza did not disappoint! Pizza is a favorite of ours anytime and the pizza on this ship was amazing! They also make fresh mozzarella cheese on board!

The buffet was standard and what can be expected. There was an espresso machine at every bar! If you’re like me and love espresso martinis in the evening for that extra energy to stay awake for entertainment, you are in luck! We also enjoyed delicious cappuccino every morning.

Our experience in the main dining room was underwhelming, to say the least! Long wait times for the food and several times the dishes were not hot. This was a big letdown. The main dining room experience on other cruise lines is normally a highlight of our trip!

What does MSC Cruises stand for?

MSC means the Mediterranean Shipping Company and it’s the name given in honor of the cargo company who started MSC Cruises. Passengers all seem to agree that the MSC cruise ships are some of the most beautiful ships of any cruise line.

Is MSC A Luxury cruise line?

We would not consider this to be a luxury cruise line, however, The MSC Cruises Group has developed a luxury experience to capture luxury passengers, the MSC Yacht. The MSC Yacht Club features a pool, private lounges, restaurants, and terraces for relaxation and fun. It offers 24-hour butlers as well as a concierge. We have not tried the Yacht club but have seen great reviews of the food service and onboard amenities. If we came across a great price, we’d jump on the opportunity to sail in the MSC Yacht Club!

Will we sail again on an MSC cruise?

As tempting as the prices may be, since our 3 previous voyages we probably won’t book the MSC Meraviglia again. For us, the negatives outweigh the positives. We really enjoy a great dining experience, the biggest negative is the food. However, we’ve seen prices as low as $299 with drinks and wifi. I’m sure Scott may try to talk me into one of those!

We’re not giving up on MSC entirely. We look forward to booking a sailing on the MSC Seashore, the newest member of the fleet. She will be sailing out of Port Canaveral starting this summer.

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