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Cruising with MSC

Swiss-based MSC Cruises sets itself apart from other cruise lines with its refined onboard experiences and eclectic selection of facilities, including adults-only pools, Balinese spas and 4D cinemas. The line's 15 ships cater to a variety of nationalities sailing from destinations like the Mediterranean, the CaribbeanSouth America and northern Europe, with voyages lasting between one and 42 nights. MSC's ships carry anywhere from 1,984 to 5,179 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 value of its itineraries – the cruise fare covers ship activities, 24-hour room service and most meals (with the exception of specialty restaurants). Food options vary by ship, though most MSC restaurants feature globally inspired cuisines.

Meanwhile, MSC entertainment includes evening concerts, live shows, parties and contests, while shore excursions cover everything from tours of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, to exploring Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

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Swiss-based MSC Cruises sets itself apart from other cruise lines with its refined onboard experiences and eclectic selection of facilities, including adults-only pools, Balinese spas and 4D cinemas. The line's 15 ships cater to a variety of nationalities sailing from destinations like the Mediterranean, the CaribbeanSouth America and northern Europe, with voyages lasting between one and 42 nights. MSC's ships carry anywhere from 1,984 to 5,179 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 value of its itineraries – the cruise fare covers ship activities, 24-hour room service and most meals (with the exception of specialty restaurants). Food options vary by ship, though most MSC restaurants feature globally inspired cuisines.

Meanwhile, MSC entertainment includes evening concerts, live shows, parties and contests, while shore excursions cover everything from tours of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, to exploring Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Pros & Cons

  • Wide array of European itineraries to choose from

  • Children ages 11 and younger sail for free; kids 12 to 17 sail for free during low season and midseason (on select voyages)

  • Appeals to travelers from Europe as well as the U.S.

  • Beverages, including soft drinks, are not included in cruise fare

  • Shore excursions cost extra

  • Limited dining options compared to other lines

Rankings

MSC Cruises 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.

3.56Scorecard
  • 3.4Expert Rating »
  • 3.5Traveler Rating »
  • 4.0Health Rating »

Photos

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MSC Seaside
MSC Seaside, which debuted in December 2017, carries up to 5,179 passengers and 1,413 crew members. The ship's staterooms offer between 151 and 1,022 square feet of indoor and, when applicable, outdoor space. The accommodations come with amenities like LCD ...
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MSC Cruises Ships

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On Board

Sailings throughout the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas cater mainly to European travelers, while Caribbean itineraries attract an American clientele. While most MSC cruises are geared toward retirees, don't be surprised if you encounter families during summer and holiday breaks (especially if you're sailing the Caribbean). Couples – particularly honeymooners – also cruise with MSC to take advantage of activities and...
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On Shore

MSC Cruises offers 2,000 shore excursions across its fleet that you can book on board or in advance through the MSC website (booking periods vary by itinerary). Passengers can arrange excursions like a sightseeing tour of Dublin 's cobbled streets, a vineyard tour and wine tasting in Montevideo, Uruguay, or horseback riding in Cozumel, Mexico ....
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Before You Book

  • To confirm your reservations, a deposit is required. Full payment must be received 90 days before your sailing date. If you book less than 90 days prior to sailing, the full payment date will be requested at the time of booking. 
  • The "Kids Sail Free" policy applies to kids 11 and younger on select sailings and is based on availability. Starting in winter 2018-19, children between the ages of 12 and 17 also sail free during low season and midseason (on select itineraries and based on availability). 
  • To receive a full refund, you must cancel at least 90 days prior to the scheduled embarkation date. After that, you'll forfeit your deposit or face percentage penalties, depending on the sailing and when you cancel. Refer to MSC's website for the full cancellation policy. 
  • Passengers with special needs should fill out the Special Needs Form at the time of booking. At the latest, MSC must be notified two days before departure.
  • If your cruise is canceled by MSC for technical or weather-related reasons before the voyage begins, you will be refunded the full fare. 

Before You Board

  • If departing from an American port, you must check in and be on board two hours before departure.
  • You can check in online and collect your e-tickets any time between 20 days and 48 hours prior to your embarkation date. Visit MSC's web check-in page for more information.  
  • All luggage should be labeled with passenger's name, ship name, cabin number and the date and port of departure. Two suitcases and two handheld pieces of luggage are permitted per person (as long as that does not exceed eight pieces of luggage per stateroom).
  • While you cruise international waters, MSC requires passengers to carry all necessary travel documents – such as passports, required visas, immigration documents and vaccination certificates – where necessary. For a list of routine vaccines, visit the World Health Organization's website.
  • You can book shore excursions in advance on MSC's website. Deadlines for prebooking shore excursions vary by itinerary.

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 22 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.