The best ships of MSC Cruises – which one suits you?

MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa are among the best ships of MSC Cruises and amongst some of the largest cruise ships at sea. They both belong to the Meraviglia Plus class ships.

Italian-born and built MSC Cruises launched these two ships in 2019 and 2021, respectively. MSC Grandiosa is hailed as one of the most environmentally friendly cruise ships at sea. It boasts advanced admissions technology and modern wastewater treatments.

For those of you not familiar with MSC Cruises, this Italian cruise company started life in commercial shipping back in 1970. The "Mediterranean Shipping Company" grew to eventually offer passenger cruises with their first cruise ship in 1988. It is now one of the largest cruise companies in the world.

If you are looking for a value-for-money cruise vacation, we recommend that you take a close look at the best ships of MSC Cruises.

Traditionally elegant cruise ships for all ages

MSC Cruises is a big seller in the travel industry. From loyal MSC customers who choose them time and again for a cruise vacation to families completely new to the cruise experience, MSC delivers. And very often for well under the price that other cruise lines charge. Especially attractive if you are cruising on a budget.

Many MSC guests we have spoken to have commented about the classy feel of the MSC Ships. And we tend to agree.

From layout to design and decor, the cruise ships are elegant with a touch of glamour. This is especially true for the newest ships, which have fantastic architectural details.

The larger the ship, the younger the crowd

This is a trend for most cruise lines. The reason is that larger cruise ships have more activities and entertainment venues. And this attracts a younger crowd looking for an action-packed experience on board.

So, in addition to guests in the 60+ age group, traditionally the largest segment of cruise customers, you will find couples, families, and honeymooners on board, especially on the largest ships sailing the oceans.

How do MSC Cruises compare with Royal Caribbean Group?

The two cruise lines, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean Group offer worldwide cruises on some of the biggest cruise ships at sea. But in many ways, they offer very different experiences.

Let them entertain you

Royal Caribbean has a reputation for having great entertainment on board in the form of Broadway-style shows. And to put it plainly, MSC does not.

It does have its acclaimed Cirque du Soleil show on MSC Grandiosa, Bellissima, and Meraviglia. If you enjoy comedians, magicians, and sing-and-dance routines, then MSC will suit you, as long as you are content with the same type of show each night.

On the whole, the theater experience on board Royal Caribbean is hands down of a better variety.

But all this may change in the future as the MSC ships become bigger, newer, and more advanced. They need to get the shows up to the same Broadway-style quality that Royal Caribbean does so brilliantly.

The cruise cuisine

Cuisine onboard Royal Caribbean is often of a slightly higher quality and variety than MSC Cruises. It’s not that we don’t love Italian style food, there is always a very good range of dishes and cuisine available. And some of our meals were outstanding when we tested three different MSC cruise ships.

But overall, there is a difference, and Royal Caribbean has a better reputation for its cuisine on board. If you are a first-time cruise guest and are choosing MSC Cruises, then you will find the food range and variety more than plenty. And we recommend you try out the specialty restaurants on board which are very good.

An international guest list

Royal Caribbean attracts more American and Canadian customers compared to MSC Cruises which has a more significant number of international guests. And this makes sense being a European cruise company.

And with this, all announcements are repeated in many languages, whereas Royal Caribbean tends to stick to English. Regardless of where you come from, you can be sure to meet new friends from all corners of the world.

How to choose the best cruise ship for you

When choosing your MSC cruise ship, you should look closely at the facilities on board.

The older and smaller the cruise ship, the less variety of facilities on board. The newer and bigger the cruise ship, the more bells and whistles you will find.

Ask yourself the following before you plan your cruise:

- Why are you going on a cruise?
- Who are you going with?
- What do you want out of your cruise vacation?

Cruise to get you where you want to go

Both MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean Group have fantastic itineraries. Both offer the “core” stops that most other cruise lines include. For example, in the Caribbean, there are the Bahamas, Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman Islands.

In Europe, there is Barcelona, Rome, Venice, and Athens. And then a multitude of other stops which can be unique to that particular cruise line.

MSC Cruises also offers its unique island experience in the Bahamas (as Royal Caribbean does at CocoCay). MSC has Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, where you’ll find beaches, cafes, bars, and shopping.

MSC Ocean Cay Marine Reserve is part of the Bimini chain of islands in the Bahamas, located just 100km east of Miami.

So check the itineraries, research the ports of call, and draw up your bucket list of dream destinations that you want to visit.

Then start looking at itineraries that tick most places. Is there a great ship that can get you there? Look at the ship and facilities on board. Narrow your list until you find the right one for you and your family.

What is MSC Yacht Club, and is it worth the extra price tag?

MSC Cruises offers different types of cruising “experiences” in the price categories of inside, window, balcony, and suite cabins.

The three main categories are Bella, Fantastica, and Aurea. You can find detailed information about what’s included in each “experience” here.

And then there is the most expensive price category, MSC Yacht Club.

MSC Yacht Club is an all-suite price category with 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge, and access to a private lounge, restaurant, and pool deck exclusively for Yacht Club guests.

A complimentary mini-bar and a wide-screen TV in your cabin are also included. You have free access to the thermal suite in the Spa area, but actual treatments are charged extra.

If you choose this category and book a suite, be sure to know if you are booking a balcony or if your suite has panoramic windows. MSC Cruises boast their Yacht Club category as a “ship within a ship” concept. And it is excellent. Certainly comparable to Royal Caribbeans Aqua class and many guests say they get more value with Yacht Club compared to the Aqua class.

A new MSC concept – Explore Journeys

Earlier in 2021, MSC Cruises announced that they are taking this concept of Yacht Club one step further and building a luxury brand.

This whole new class of suite-only ships will be named Explore Journeys. Look out for more information on these new ships, the first of which is due for 2023.

MSC Cruises fleet of ships

Seaside and Seaside EVO Class Ships of MSC Cruises

MSC’s “Seaside” class first started sailing in 2017. There are currently three ships sailing and one planned for launch in 2022:

  • MSC Seaside
  • MSC Seaview
  • MSC Seashore
  • MSC Seascape

They are visually stunning ships with a guest capacity of over 5000. As sister ships, MSC Seaview and MSC Seaside sail the Mediterranean in the summer before heading to the Caribbean for winter.

MSC Seashore and its sister ship, Seascape, are a little bigger than the Seaside class ships above. And therefore, these ships have been classed as MSC Seaside EVO (meaning “evolution”).

They are more environmentally friendly and have a slightly larger guest capacity (around 5400 guests) than MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview.

However, they are smaller than the 6300 guest capacity ships in the Meraviglia Plus class.

What we love about MSC Seashore class ships is their waterfront concept with huge outdoor promenades, bringing you closer to the ocean.

There are some fantastic architectural moments on board, for example, the glass-floored bridge – The Bridge of Sighs, and the Svarovski Staircase. So you will undoubtedly feel you are floating in a luxurious hotel when on board.

MSC Seashore will sail in the Caribbean and The Antilles throughout the summer and winter. We wait to hear where Seascape will eventually be placed after its launch planned for November 2022.

Meraviglia class ships of MSC Cruises

  • MSC Meraviglia
  • MSC Bellissima

In 2017 when MSC Cruises launched their latest advanced ship onto the cruise market, Meraviglia, it became one of the largest ships at sea. Also on board are MSC’s first solo cabins for guests traveling alone. In total, these ships can accommodate 4500 guests on board.

Quickly followed two years later by its beautiful sister ship, MSC Bellissima, both are glamorous and packed full of fun activities that work perfectly for families.

MSC Meraviglia is sailing in the Mediterranean in the summer of 2022. MSC Bellissima will offer cruises near the Red Sea, a new region for MSC Cruises.

News Flash! MSC Cruises have announced that the beautiful MSC Meraviglia with call New York home and offer cruises to Bermuda, Canada and New England, and even down to the Caribbean from April 2023. This is a first for MSC Cruises from Brooklyn Cruise Port! Cruises are bookable now. So enjoy the Big Apple before you cruise from New York, and experience Atlantic Canada and wonderful New England on a Canada and New England cruise. One to tick off the bucket list!

Meraviglia Plus class ships of MSC Cruises

  • MSC Grandiosa
  • MSC Virtuosa
  • MSC World Europa

MSC Grandiosa was the first of this Plus class, launched in 2019, and is sailing in the Mediterranean in the summer.

MSC Virtuosa is their newest ship at sea. She will sail in the United Arab Emirates and the Mediterranean.

MSC World Europa will be the largest ship when completed in the MSCs fleet. This cruise ship and its three more planned sisters in the same “World” class, in 2024, 2025, and 2027 will be amongst the largest cruise ships at sea, accommodating 6,850 guests.

MSC World Europa will be MSCs first LNG (liquefied natural gas) powered ship.

MSC Fantasia class ships of MSC Cruises

  • MSC Fantasia
  • MSC Splendida
  • MSC Divina
  • MSC Preziosa

Built in 2008 and 2009 respectively, MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida are elegant ships with onboard facilities such as a theater, pools and spa, mini golf, and basketball courts. They attract slighter older guests, there are fewer families with small children, and therefore offer a more relaxed type of cruise.

We have cruised Fantasia around the Mediterranean and Splendida to the Norwegian Fjords, both excellent itineraries. There are, however, limited activities on board for families. MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia are in the Mediterranean for the summer of 2022.

MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa are similar ships but are larger, accommodating more guests with more activities on board. MSC Divina cruises in the Caribbean, and MSC Preziosa offers cruises in Northern Europe, the Baltics, and the spectacular Norwegian Fjords.

MSC Musica class ship of MSC Cruises

  • MSC Musica
  • MSC Orchestra
  • MSC Poesia
  • MSC Magnifica

MSC Musica, the first ship built in this class in 2006, accommodates around 2500 guests on board. MSC Orchestra is a little larger with 3200 guests.

The smaller size ships with fewer passengers mean calmer sailing. Choose these ships if you love the itinerary and not if you are looking for a wide range of action-packed activities on board.

MSC Musica has cruises in the Mediterranean and Greek Isles in the summer. MSC Orchestra, Poesia, and Magnifica sail in Northern Europe and the Norwegian Fjords.

MSC Lirica class ship of MSC Cruises

  • MSC Armonia
  • MSC Sinfonia
  • MSC Lyrica
  • MSC Opera

The Lirica class of MSC Cruises fleet of ships are the oldest and smallest cruise ships of MSC Cruises. The lead ship in this class, MSC Lirica, was built in 2002.

All the ships have been refurbished since then and have a capacity of around 1560.

This smaller capacity means a more intimate sailing experience and the possibility of reaching smaller ports. Facilities include the pools and spa, casino, shopping, and theater. So a quieter cruise with fewer activities. It’s very much an adult cruising experience.

In 2022, MSC Lirica is sailing from Athens to Jeruselum via Greece. MSC Sinfonia is sailing the Greek Isles from Venice. MSC Opera is sailing the Mediterranean and includes Tunisia as one of the stops. And MSC Armonia is sailing the Mediterranean.

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Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..