MSC Cruises is the fastest growing cruise line in the world. In fact, the family-owned company just added a third homeport for one of their ships in New York City.
Because of this rapid growth many who are not familiar with the cruise line are beginning to hear more about the brand and are curious to know what it’s like to sail on an MSC ship.
This article will explain what’s included in the cost of your cruise ticket and what you can expect to have added onto your bill at the end of the voyage.
You will find very affordable rates when looking at cruises with MSC. It’s actually hard to find rates lower than what the company offers when it comes to cruise vacations.
But don’t let the affordability fool you. The modern ships from MSC are beautifully designed and some were built with the US cruise market in mind.
However, not all of the fun on board is included in the price of your ticket. In this article, we will explore what is actually included in your fare on an MSC cruise so you know what you (and your pockets!) can expect from your time on board.
When you book a cruise with MSC, you will have the option to choose between three different “experiences” or the cruise line’s most exclusive option, MSC Yacht Club. These are set at different price points and affect what perks you receive while on board, allowing cruisers to tailor their experience to their specific needs.
- The Bella Experience is the base level experience and is available for guests staying in balcony, oceanview, and interior staterooms. This option includes the stateroom itself, discounted drink packages, access to the main dining restaurants and buffet and onboard facilities. The Bella Experience is a great option for cruisers looking for value.
- The Fantastica Experience is available for balcony, oceanview, and interior staterooms. It includes all of the benefits of the Bella Experience plus one free cruise change, free breakfast delivery to your stateroom, and the ability to request your preferred dining time. The Fantastica Experience is a great option for cruisers looking for a relaxed and flexible experience.
- The Aurea Experience is available to cruisers staying in suites. It includes all of the perks of the Fantastica Experience plus complimentary access to The Solarium (an exclusive rooftop pool area), a welcome package (chocolate and prosecco!), the ability to dine any time you choose, a 10% discount on all spa services, priority boarding, and 24-hour room service with free delivery. The Aurea Experience is a great option for guests looking for a more inclusive cruise.
- MSC Yacht Club is as all-inclusive as MSC cruising gets. Available to guests staying in Yacht Club suites, this experience includes lavishly decorated suites, a 24-hour butler service and dedicated concierge, all-inclusive a la carte meals served in a private restaurant, unlimited drinks, and access to exclusive clubs and lounges on board. The MSC Yacht Club is a great option for guests looking for exclusivity, privacy, and an all-inclusive experience.
Regardless of the experience that you select, all MSC Cruises provide some basic on-board facilities and fun for all of their guests.
MSC Cruises offer a range of staterooms to suit every traveler’s needs and budget. From cozy interior cabins to luxurious suites with private balconies, there is an accommodation option for everyone. All cabins come equipped with a private bathroom, TV, phone, safe, hair dryer, and 24-hour room service. Each room also comes with complimentary hand sanitizer and face masks, so that you can stay germ-free while on board.
While each MSC cruise ship offers the traditional set of accommodation varieties (interior and exterior rooms, rooms with balconies, suites, etc.) that can be purchased alongside the Bella, Fantastica, and Aurea Experiences, MSC Cruises has recently added a new level with the introduction of their Yacht Club Collection. These cabins are decorated with real wood and marble and provide passengers with access to the MSC Yacht Club experience.
Dining & Drinks
Dining is a significant part of every cruising experience, and MSC Cruises takes this seriously. On each ship you will find a range of eateries, from formal dining rooms to casual buffets and specialty restaurants.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the base cruise fare, and guests who purchase the Fantastica Experience or higher can choose to dine at their preferred time in one of the main dining rooms or at the buffet. There are also specialty restaurants available for an additional fee, such Kaito Sushi Bar, an Asian-fusion restaurant, or Eataly, which serves Italian cuisine.
MSC Cruises also offers a range of bars and lounges to enjoy a drink or two, from lively poolside bars to chic cocktail lounges. Guests are not allowed to bring alcohol onboard MSC ships, so if you want to have a drink on board, it is recommended that you purchase a drinks package in advance.
Drink packages range in price and offerings from an alcohol free/minors’ package (roughly $30 per person per day) to a premium extra package (roughly $100 per person per day). Drink packages on MSC cruises include an 18% gratuity and each person in a cabin must have purchased a package. However, only cruisers sailing with the Bella, Fantastica, and Aurea Experiences need to purchase a package as passengers who are part of MSC Yacht Club have all drinks on board included in their cruise fare.
MSC Cruises offers entertainment options for guests of all ages, but not all of the options are included in your fare. For example, the 4D Cinemas and bowling alleys (found on many of the line’s newer ships) and the casinos (found on every ship), offer fun for a fee. However, there are many other options for entertainment that are included in the cost of your cruise, such as themed parties, talent shows, and live music. There are also Broadway-style shows (there are six unique shows per week!), comedy and magic performances, as well as movies and sporting events on the big screen.
For younger travelers, MSC offers five dedicated programs for children on board. Specifically designed for passengers aged zero to 17, each “club” offers an itinerary of sports, games, competitions, parties, and other fun activities. These are open each day and are overseen by MSC’s team of multi-lingual, certified staff. Families can drop in, drop out, and drop off as they please, all at no extra charge.
MSC Cruises offers a range of activities for guests to enjoy, whether they are on board or off exploring a port town. Onboard, guests can take part in cooking classes, dance classes, language lessons, and arts and crafts. There are also opportunities to learn about the culture and history of the ports of call, with guest speakers and destination-focused activities.
Many of these activities are free, but some come at an extra cost. Because of this, MSC has introduced the MSC Fun Pass, which covers the cost of activities like bowling, the XD interactive cinema, formula one racing simulators and more. The Fun Pass’ price varies depending on the ship and when you purchase it—for example, if you purchase the pass before boarding, you can earn additional credits and a 20% discount. These work like a debit card, so anyone in your party can use the pass for onboard activities and it can be reloaded throughout your trip.
At each port of call, guests can explore the local sights, taste the local cuisine, and take part in activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. MSC Cruises offers a range of shore excursions, from city tours to adventure activities, but these will all come at an extra cost.
However, at MSC’s private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay, guests can enjoy free access to loungers on any of the island’s eight beaches as well as a complimentary lunch buffet.
Newer ships in the Meraviglia and Seaside classes offer MSC for Me, an app that aids passengers in planning and communication before and during their cruise. The app is accessible on both Android and Apple devices. MSC for Me Chat allows passengers to communicate with each other without purchasing an internet package.
All passengers can enjoy popular newspapers and magazines for free while cruising via PressReader, another app available on Android and Apple. Zoe, a virtual personal cruise assistant, is also available. This advanced technology can assist guests by answering questions, checking bills, and reserving restaurants in seven different languages.
MSC Cruises prides itself on providing excellent service to its guests. The crew is friendly and attentive, and they are always available to help with any queries or issues. There is also a dedicated guest services team who are available 24/7 to assist with any requests or concerns. MSC Cruises also offers a loyalty program, which rewards guests with exclusive benefits and discounts based on the number of cruises they have taken with the company.
Whether you plan on making the most of the Bella Experience or splashing out for the all-inclusive MSC Yacht Club, you will have access to all of the above and then some (like access to pools and fitness centers). However, cruisers at all experience levels are still likely to face some additional costs. The most common add-on packages and fees that cruisers should be prepared to purchase are:
- Internet Packages to access WiFi at sea
- Gratuities/tips for the on-board staff
- Beverage and drinks packages
- Professional photos taken on board
- Excursions at ports
- Dining at specialty restaurants
- Spa and wellness treatments
- View Best Prices on MSC Cruises