The question is… should we recommend MSC Cruises to you, our loyal Clients, or not?
Well, to answer this (a responsibility we take very seriously… to find the right answers) we had to get onboard in the flesh, put our investigative hats on, and learn all we could.
Recently we did just that, as you can see in the picture above. 🙂 (And as you can also see above, “MSC Meraviglia” has quite the Promenade running down the middle of the ship!! As we mention here https://gallery.nancyandshawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/MSC-Meraviglia-Caribbean-Cruise/i-NJV8vgL and in the few pics after that one, that ceiling puts on quite the show!!)
To experience MSC Cruises for the first time we took a Cruise onboard their “MSC Meraviglia” ship that launched in 2017… it was a Miami to Miami week long cruise in the Caribbean and here is what we found out from being on the ship for a full week and NOT just for a few hour ship inspection.
(If you’re more visual and want to see LOTS of pictures & videos you can check out our Photo & Video Gallery https://gallery.nancyandshawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/MSC-Meraviglia-Caribbean-Cruise of this trip as well… FYI, under each picture & video there’s some VERY detailed captions that tell you ALL about our experience onboard!!)
First off, we can tell you that we have a mixed bag of emotions about our experience onboard MSC Cruises.
They do some things right and some things wrong to the point where we would say, it depends on the situation whether we would recommend them to you or not.
MSC Cruises would not be our top recommendation (for reasons we will get into shortly) B-U-T let’s say you are looking for an Exclusive Suite experience and find some of the top rated cruiseline options a little over-budget or maybe they’re sold out on the only dates you can travel… than we would be comfortable recommending MSC Cruises to you. (only on certain ships of their’s though!)
Let’s say you were joining friends who are booked already on MSC Cruises and they really want you to go…
…then we have a few suggestions in regards to what stateroom to book and how to get the most out of your cruise experience onboard MSC Cruises that WILL make it a memorable cruise.
Here are some of our observations after being onboard that you should know:
- MSC Cruises is not a North American based Cruiseline. (as pretty much all the main lines you’re familiar with are) They’re an Italian Cruiseline that has mostly Europeans & South Americans onboard so about 80% of the clientele is “International” so the ship does cater to many different cultures as you would expect… it does NOT cater to Americans like we’re used to on Regent, Crystal, Seabourn, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Royal, Norwegian, Carnival, Holland, etc. To give you an example of how “International” it is onboard… EVERY-TIME they did an announcement they did it in 6 languages (English, Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish & German) which was comical the first time but painful after that as a simple 1-2 minute message would go on for 10 minutes or more!
- The live music played is very European influenced, the coffee is espresso not Americano, no half and half cream to be found onboard, much of the cuisine is European influenced, etc, etc.
- We had a tough time communicating our needs with many of the staff who did not speak good English and meeting other guests was tough with the language barrier as well… don’t get us wrong, ALL the staff & fellow guests were really nice but if you like to be social on a Cruise like many people do, we found it was only around 1 in 5 people we could communicate well with/carry on a conversation.
- You can get onboard some of MSC’s ships at starting prices lower then most other lines which may sound great but what it really means is they promote a cheap product so when you are onboard the nickel and diming is prevalent and annoying as the staff are trying to sell you packages for this and that, including drinks and dining packages which are not necessarily your best option. Don’t get us wrong, ALL big ship lines do that but it just seemed to be even more aggressive onboard here! (As an example, it seemed like any-time we dined outside of the Yacht Club someone would come to our table aggressively promoting the specialty restaurants)
- The ship is BIG which means that it’s crowded (see an example of a line for food below at the main grill area serving burgers/hot dogs, etc.), so if you like a more exclusive, relaxed feel with no lineups or booming music or millennial dance parties etc, this may not be for you…
- On top of that, there were LOTS of kids onboard (due to the lower prices) which makes the noise a little louder and the pools busier as there are ZERO Adult Only pools like many lines offer… AND, they let kids into ALL the night-time venues no matter how late it was… for example, it just felt weird being at the “Black Light” party & the “Silent Disco” at midnight with young kids… some couldn’t have even been teenagers!
If you are in a situation where you are considering booking this Cruiseline, we have some specific suggestions to make your time on-board an MSC Cruise be the best it can be…
With all the negatives said, you CAN have a GREAT Cruise on MSC Cruises if you follow our tips and suggestions:
First off, BOOK a “Deluxe Yacht Club Suite” with MSC Yacht Club privileges like we did… as the price for this room was very close to the price of a regular Balcony room on other lines it was a No-Brainer for us to book this room for our personal Cruise onboard! (2 other options to stay in this MSC Yacht Club area are a bigger “Royal Yacht Club Suite” with your very own jacuzzi on the balcony or an “Inside Yacht Club Stateroom”)
It is soooo worth it to stay in the exclusive “MSC Yacht Club” area and it changes the experience all together!
The MSC Yacht Club is an exclusive and intimate members only area with private access to several floors of amenities, each with sweeping views of the ocean.
Even the rooms themselves are enclosed in this private, access-only space so it’s a totally exclusive experience!!
Here are pictures of our Suite and showing the “Yacht Club’s” Privacy:
A nice perk is that you still get all the pluses of a big ship (LOTS of fun/exciting entertainment, multiple bars, the only “Cirque Du Soleil” shows at sea, etc.) but you can then retire back to your exclusive member’s area and get away from the crowds, lineups and noise.
Here are a few pictures of the ship and entertainment:
But for more MUCH more information about what is onboard…
…you can check out our Photo & Video Gallery https://gallery.nancyandshawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/MSC-Meraviglia-Caribbean-Cruise of this trip as well… FYI, under each picture & video there’s some VERY detailed captions that tell you ALL about our experience onboard!!)
“MSC YACHT CLUB” DINING:
The MSC Yacht Club has many amenities including several areas to have a bite to eat.
Most notable is the Private “Yacht Club Restaurant” for breakfast, lunch and dinner which was a little “cut above the rest of the ship’s restaurants” where you can show up whenever you want to dine within the hours provided daily.
If you are still hungry, you get exclusive 24 hour room service included too! (Many Cruiselines have done away with this feature being Free! Same with MSC, many rooms onboard no longer get this perk for Free.)
Check out the “Yacht Club Restaurant” and some of the dishes we enjoyed:
In the “MSC Yacht Club” exclusive area, don’t forget, there is also a private lounge (with lots of yummy food too!) and a private pool/jacuzzi/sun deck at the very front of the ship which is pretty much the best viewing points onboard… better then the “Captain’s View”!! 🙂
Here are some pictures of the “MSC Yacht Club” Private Lounge & Sun Deck:
All of these spaces are not crowded or chaotic like the rest of the ship. Not even close!!
It’s quiet, soft music is played for good conversation having or for relaxing with a book. Live musicians play in the Lounge nightly to entertain you while enjoying your favorite cocktail… speaking of cocktails, ALL “MSC Yacht Club” rooms come with a drink package so you won’t have to worry about every drink costing you or “should you buy the next round?” for your new found friends you met in the lounge, etc.
As you can tell from the pictures, there is lots of seating space in both the lounge and sun deck (no fighting for chairs or loungers) and all the best staff are there to treat you right.
Yes, there are 62 staff in the “MSC Yacht Club” exclusive area alone to take care of Yacht Club guests and they do a VERY fine job making you feel special and pampered. We kept hearing “please just ask for whatever you need”…. And they truly meant it!
Included in that is complimentary 24 hour Butler service and our very own Concierge Reception (above) for prompt help with all our needs. No need to line up deep to talk with the reception desk on deck 4 when you have your very own private desk in the MSC Yacht Club…and the line was “Always” long down at the main reception!
THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER PERKS WHEN IN THE “MSC YACHT CLUB” TOO:
Even getting onboard day one was impressive. They queued Yacht Club guests to go through security first, then they brought us to a private area to have drinks and appies while we checked in and then escorted us to the “MSC Yacht Club” Lounge to be welcomed and escorted to our staterooms.
We also had use of a private elevator, so no need to stop on every floor with an elevator full of people. No, you just swipe you card and voila, you go from deck 4 to deck 15 or 16 or 17 or 18 or 19 (the Yacht Club decks) with no stops or crowds. We Loved it!!! 🙂
For the Cirque Du Soleil show, our Butler brought us down to our seats past the big line of people waiting to get into the show. Very nice!
Getting off the ship and on the ship in ports of call, we had an exclusive area to enter & leave for “MSC Yacht Club” guests only- no lines!!! 🙂
All drinks and food are included for MSC Yacht Club guests in your Private Yacht Club venues and we should note that a very generous selection of drinks were included too all over the ship outside our private area… we simply had to show our “Yacht Club” key card!
And we did notice that the liquor and wine selections were great quality by the way. Robert Mondavi, Ravenswood and Peter Lehmann for example you could enjoy for leisurely sipping over nice conversations!
You also get unlimited access to the Thermal Suite at the Spa where they have hot tubs, relaxation areas, salt room, ice room, steam, sauna, etc. which normally costs guests $200 per person for the week, $300 per couple for the week or $60 per person daily. Nice perk!
Check out Our Pictures and Videos Gallery to see the spa “Thermal Suite” area.
We did not get to visit this time around but when you stop at MSC’s Private Island called “Ocean Cay”, they even have a private area for us MSC Yacht Club members with a private restaurant, beach and relaxation area. Private Cabanas are an extra charge though.
So like we said, you can have a good time onboard MSC Cruises if you select the “Yacht Club” option (only on select ships) and enjoy your time in that area with all the amenities and the pampering.
If you made it to this point of the post then you may be considering MSC Cruises as an option and if you are, well now you know what to expect which makes SUCH a difference to your expectations and overall enjoyment.
Next, we’ve included…
Some Great Tips to Make Your Cruise with MSC Cruises Even Better:
- Bring two European converters if you have multiple devices to charge daily. They do have 2 North American plugs but the rest are European. We have two laptops and two iPhones and two apple watches so converters were needed. Note: The Free onboard app does eat up the power on your phone, so you will for sure need to be charging frequently.
- Use the MSC App to book shows and theater productions and so much more. It’s a fantastic app! You can even stay in touch with family members onboard through text and locate each other easily.
- There is a “White Night” Party so bring a white outfit… if you want! 🙂
- In your “MSC Yacht Club” room, please don’t hesitate asking for what you need. Day one we had a small list and it was all handled immediately. We asked for extra hangers, lemon slices, our favorite coffee pods, stock of our favorite drinks in the minibar, etc.
- For the Cirque du Soleil shows, skip the dinner option and just do the drink and show option. The food is just so/so but a much better experience in the MSC Yacht Club Restaurant!
There you have it, some inside information about MSC Cruises to make an informed decision if they’re a Cruiseline you’d like to sail on or not!
If you want even more details & to see even more pictures of the ship & Videos of the “MSC Yacht Club” rooms, etc, you can check out our Photo & Video Gallery https://gallery.nancyandshawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/MSC-Meraviglia-Caribbean-Cruise of this trip as well… FYI, under each picture & video there’s some VERY detailed captions that tell you ALL about our experience onboard!!)
We appreciate You!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!