MSC Cruises Review
- Overall Rating: 3.1 3.1
- Expert Rating: 3.5
- Traveler Rating: 2.8
- Couples: 2.7
- Families w/ young children: 2.9
- Families w/ older children: 3.0
- Singles/Friends: 2.8
- Groups: 2.6
- MSC Armonia Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Divina Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Caribbean
- MSC Fantasia Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Lirica Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Magnifica Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Musica Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Opera Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Orchestra Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Poesia Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Preziosa Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- MSC Sinfonia Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Mediterranean
- MSC Splendida Overall Rating: Most Cruises: Europe
- See MSC Ship Rankings »
MSC Cruises Overview
How it Ranks: MSC has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. MSC Cruises appears on the following ranking lists:
- #7 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money
- #9 in Best Cruise Lines for Families
- #13 in Best Cruise Lines for Romance
- #13 in Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean
MSC Cruises sets itself apart from other European cruise lines with its refined onboard experience and eclectic selection of facilities, including adults-only and kids-only pools and 4-D cinemas. The line's 12 ships cater mainly to a European clientele, as many MSC ships sail throughout the Mediterranean. However, American cruisers will benefit from MSC's 2014 voyages to closer destinations like the Caribbean, South America, Canada, New England and the Gulf of Mexico with voyages lasting between two and 20 nights. MSC's ships carry anywhere from 2,199 to 4,363 passengers at full capacity, with approximately one crew member for every three passengers. Although MSC's ships differ in size, the whole fleet receives praise from previous passengers for its sophisticated ambiance and the good value of its itineraries — the cruise fare covers ship activities, gratuities for the staff and some dining costs. Food options vary aboard each ship, though most MSC cruises' restaurants feature Italian and globally inspired cuisine. Meanwhile, MSC entertainment includes evening concerts and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics shows, while shore excursions cover everything from tours of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, to 4x4 Jeep adventures in Jamaica.
Pros & Cons
- Wide array of European itineraries to choose from
- Children ages 11 and younger can sail for free
- Cruise fare covers many onboard amenities
- Beverages, including soft drinks and mineral water, are not included in cruise cost
- Shore excursions cost extra
- Dining options are fairly limited
MSC Cruises sailing throughout the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas cater mainly to European travelers, while Caribbean itineraries attract an American clientele. While most cruises are geared toward retirees, don't be surprised if you encounter families during summer and holiday breaks from school (especially if you're sailing the Caribbean). Couples — particularly honeymooners — also cruise with MSC to take advantage of activities and packages designed specifically for pairs.More about the onboard experience»
MSC Cruises offers more than 700 shore excursions that you can book up to six months in advance through the MSC website or on the ship. Passengers can arrange excursions like a sightseeing tour of Dublin's cobbled streets, a vineyard tour and wine tasting in Montevideo, Uruguay, or horseback ...More about the on shore experience»
Before You Book
- There is no minimum age for cruising with MSC. Children 11 years or younger may sail for free as long as they stay in the same stateroom as a parent or a responsible adult. However, the "Kids Sail Free" promotion is only available to travelers with Early Booking Fares. "Kids Sail Free" is based on availability and may not be combined with any other discounts; even if your fare does not qualify, you'll see there is always a discount for children ages 11 and under.
- Passengers under the age of 21 must be accompanied by — and share the same or an adjoining stateroom as — a parent or adult over the age of 21.
- Women who are or will be 24 weeks pregnant by the time the cruise ends are not allowed to sail with MSC.
- To receive a full refund, cancellation requests must be made in writing and received at least 76 days prior to your scheduled embarkation date. If you cancel 46 to 75 days before your scheduled departure date, you will forfeit the deposit. If you cancel 16 to 45 days before your scheduled sailing date, you may receive a 50 percent refund of the price of your cruise, excluding taxes. If you miss this deadline and cancel your cruise within 15 days of your sailing date, you will receive no refund.
- If your cruise is canceled before the voyage begins for technical or weather-related reasons, you will be refunded the full fare.
Before You Board
- Plan to arrive at the ship two hours prior to your scheduled departure time. Check-in closes 90 minutes before embarkation for all cruises leaving from American ports, and one hour before embarkation for all ships leaving other ports (your scheduled departure time is indicated on your cruise ticket).
- Online check-in can be completed 48 hours prior to your embarkation date at www.mscwebcheckin.com.
- If you wish to check in online and you have a group reservation, you will need to check in together. You may also choose to check in together at the loading dock.
- All luggage should be labeled with the passenger's last name, ship name and cabin number. You are permitted to bring as many bags on board as you wish, as long as you are able to store everything in your cabin. MSC encourages passengers to limit luggage to two checked suitcases per person weighing no more than 50 pounds in order to make the journey to your departure port easier.
- While you cruise international waters, MSC requires you to carry all necessary travel documents, such as passports, required visas, immigration documents and vaccination certificates where necessary (e.g., yellow fever vaccinations are required for certain destinations in South America and Africa). For a list of routine vaccines, visit the World Health Organization website.
- Any guest younger than 21 may not consume alcoholic beverages or participate in onboard gambling.
- Women who are or will be 23 weeks pregnant by the time the cruise ends must produce a medical certificate affirming fitness for travel.
- Passengers with disabilities who require special equipment or accommodation must inform MSC Cruises in writing no later than 72 hours before departure.
- You can book shore excursions up to six months in advance on MSC's website.
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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 24 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.