A relative newcomer in the North American market, MSC Cruises is equal parts elegant and kitschy. The line tends to appeal to a wide swath of cruisers, from Europeans who like to party into the wee hours of the morning to American families who book because of affordable fares and “kids sail free” pricing.
To satisfy its diverse passenger base, MSC offers accommodations to fit all types of travelers. Rooms include inexpensive inside cabins that sleep two passengers, midlevel staterooms with windows and balconies, and high-end suites that offer cruisers with larger budgets a private oasis in the form of the MSC Yacht Club. A variety of connecting rooms and cabins with extra bunks accommodate larger groups and families who wish to share space.
Here, TPG breaks down what you can expect when you book a room on one of MSC’s ships.
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MSC Cruises cabin primer
MSC Cruises has become one of the fastest-growing lines in the cruise industry, with about two dozen ships in its fleet. The vessels fall into six classes: Lirica, Musica, Fantasia, Meraviglia, Seaside and World.
Although cabin offerings can vary from ship to ship and class to class, the standard types remain the same: inside, outside, balcony and suite.
Additionally, you’ll find the same basic amenities in each room, unless otherwise noted below. They include two twin beds that can be joined to form a queen- or king-size bed; an in-cabin bathroom with a shower, a sink, a toilet and basic soap, shower gel and shampoo; a couple of nightstands; a chair or sofa; a desk/vanity; a closet; a safe; a hair dryer; a minifridge; a phone; USB outlets and a selection of both North American and European outlets.
On all ships except MSC Lirica, MSC Opera, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Armonia, you’ll also find an interactive TV that allows you to view the daily schedule, check your onboard account and choose from a selection of live TV programs and movies.
Twice-daily room tidying is provided by a room steward assigned to each cabin, and room service is available throughout the day for an added fee.
One confusing aspect of MSC’s bookings is that you’ll have to select an experience package in addition to a cabin type. Package tiers determine everything from your ability to choose a specific cabin and preferred dining time to whether you’ll receive welcome amenities in your stateroom. Certain cabin types are only available in conjunction with certain package experiences and vice versa. Those are noted in each respective section below.
Accessible cabins, including accommodations for wheelchair users, are available on every ship in MSC’s fleet. In addition to more space, they feature wider doorways and lowered sinks and toilets in the bathrooms, as well as grab bars.
MSC Cruises’ experience packages
Here’s what you get when you book each of MSC’s three experience packages, which determine the perks you’ll receive on your sailing.
- Option to purchase discounted drink packages when you book your cruise.
- MSC Voyagers Club points.
- All the Bella perks.
- One free change to your cruise booking (with some restrictions).
- Ability to choose between early and late seating for dinner.
- A choice of specific cabin and its location.
- Room service (complimentary for breakfast, but fees apply for other meals).
- A 20% discount on pre-purchased specialty dining packages.
- All Fantastica perks.
- Flexible My Choice dining, which lets you dine at any time you choose between set hours.
- A choice of specific balcony cabins and suites in prime locations.
- Free 24-hour room service delivery.
- A welcome package, including Prosecco and chocolates.
- Complimentary access to your ship’s solarium and thermal area.
- A bathrobe, slippers and a pillow menu in your cabin.
- A 40% discount on all prepaid spa packages and 10% off all individual spa treatments purchased on board.
- Priority boarding and luggage drop-off.
Inside cabins on MSC Cruises ships
Inside cabins — rooms with no windows — are available on all ships in the MSC fleet. Ranging from 140 to 301 square feet (depending on the ship), they make for great sleeping because they’re so dark. They’re also ideal for passengers who are on a budget.
In addition to the standard amenities mentioned above, they provide room for anywhere from two to four passengers to sleep. (Rooms that sleep more than two feature bunks that pull down from the ceiling.)
These cabins are available with the line’s Bella and Fantastica experiences.
If you’re sailing solo, some MSC vessels offer cabins for one outfitted with a twin bed that converts into a couch. These interior studio accommodations are only available with the Bella package on MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima and the line’s World-class ships.
Ocean-view cabins on MSC Cruises ships
Ocean-view rooms are similar to insides in that they provide basic amenities — but with a view.
Offering 129 to 269 square feet of space (depending on the specific ship and ocean-view category), these staterooms allow you to see outside through a porthole or a window that doesn’t open.
MSC’s outside cabins are available to passengers who book Bella and Fantastica packages.
Additionally, if you’re traveling with your family or another group, several of MSC Cruises’ ships — particularly those in the Meraviglia and Seaside classes — feature space for as many as 10 passengers via a series of connecting rooms. Options are available at the ocean-view and balcony level.
Balcony cabins on MSC Cruises ships
You may be surprised to discover that most of MSC Cruises’ balcony cabins provide less interior square footage than is available in inside or ocean-view staterooms. Balcony rooms run anywhere from 129 to 205 square feet, but their key feature is, of course, a private balcony, which does add an extra 32 to 129 square feet, depending on the vessel and specific type of balcony room booked. These cabins are bookable in conjunction with MSC’s Bella, Fantastica and Aurea experiences.
Although balcony cabins offer upgraded amenities, including MSC’s brand of hand lotion and toiletries, they are largely the same as inside and ocean-view accommodations.
MSC’s newer ships — including those in the Meraviglia, Seaside and World classes — house connecting balcony rooms that can sleep up to 10 in the same group traveling together.
Additionally, on its World-class ships, the line has introduced inward-facing balconies, similar to the ones Royal Caribbean pioneered in 2009 with the debut of its Oasis-class vessels. On World Europa, for example, they overlook the ship’s promenade, offering views of the activity below rather than the ocean.
MSC Cruises suites
All ships in MSC’s fleet have suites that can be booked as part of the Fantastica and Aurea packages, but it’s Aurea that offers the most perks, as outlined above.
The several types of suites vary by ship in terms of size and amenities. Some come with balconies, while others only offer floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.
Although this room type is listed as a suite, it’s essentially a balcony cabin with a bit more space — 183 square feet of interior accommodation with a balcony that ranges from 140 to 183 square feet.
Standard suites include rooms with huge balconies larger than the cabin’s interior space and ones with private whirlpool tubs. They run from 269 to 355 square feet, with balconies measuring 32 to 409 square feet.
Coming in between 377 and 420 square feet, with balconies spanning from 32 to 495 square feet, Grand Suites — found on Seaside- and World-class ships — come in two types. They include standard one-bedroom Grand Suites, as well as two-bedroom varieties. The latter has one bedroom with a queen-size bed and another with two twins. It sleeps up to five passengers and offers two bathrooms — one with a shower and the other with a bathtub.
While most suites are designed for double occupancy, some suite accommodations on MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa and MSC Magnifica can sleep up to five people.
MSC Yacht Club suites on MSC ships
All cabins located in the MSC Yacht Club — exclusive, gated areas on select ships — are called suites, even the smallest and least expensive, which don’t have windows or balconies. Yacht Club suite types range from insides to two-deck duplexes, all of which come with butler and concierge services, luxuriously appointed furnishings (such as real marble finishes, memory foam mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets) and access to members-only restaurants, bars (alcohol is free there), lounges, pools and sun decks.
The Yacht Club features seven different types of rooms. Ships that have the MSC Yacht Club on board include MSC Bellissima, MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Seaside, MSC Seascape, MSC Seaview, MSC Seashore, MSC Splendida, MSC Virtuosa and MSC World Europa.
Note: Not all Yacht Clubs have the same suite types available.
MSC Yacht Club Interior Suites
Although these 161- to 226-square-foot cabins don’t offer a view or fresh air, they are elegantly decorated and include all the Yacht Club benefits mentioned above.
MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suites
These Yacht Club digs are the equivalent of a balcony cabin — but in a dedicated area that includes all the exclusive perks. They run 236 to 366 square feet and have balconies ranging from 54 to 86 square feet, so they also come with a bit more space, both inside and outdoors.
MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Grand Suites
Similarly, Deluxe Grand Suites are like the Yacht Club equivalent of booking a Grand Suite with more perks. Depending on the ship, they offer anywhere from 269 to 463 square feet of space, plus 65- to 129-square-foot balconies. Some Grand Suites also have two bedrooms instead of one. Further, these rooms on Seaside-class ships include bathrooms with bathtubs, as well as separate living areas.
MSC Yacht Club Duplex Suites
Rising two decks, MSC’s duplex staterooms (which measure 495 to 635 square feet and come with 65- to 334-square-foot balconies) feature living rooms with two-person sofa beds downstairs and master bedrooms upstairs, which also sleep two passengers. Each of these accommodations comes complete with two walk-in closets and two bathrooms — one with a bathtub and one with a shower. Most duplexes on Meraviglia- and World-class ships also have their own private whirlpool tubs.
MSC Yacht Club Executive and Family Suites
The line’s Executive and Family Suites, available only on Fantasia-class vessels, are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to stay in the Yacht Club with a family or other group of more than two people. This option, which is one type of suite (despite its confusing name), has space for up to five cruisers via a combination of bunk beds, sofa beds and beds that pull down from the ceiling, depending on the ship. The suites clock in at around 431 to 549 square feet, depending on the vessel.
The only drawback is that these staterooms have no balconies and no in-room dining areas, but they do include all the perks you’d find in Yacht Club cabins.
MSC Yacht Club Royal Suites
Although they only occupy one level, at 388 to 667 square feet, MSC’s Yacht Club Royal Suites are right up there with the Duplex Suites in terms of space. They offer the second-largest amount of square footage after the Owner’s Suites. They come with huge balconies comprising 355 to 753 square feet of outdoor area.
Additionally, bathrooms in these suites offer bathtubs on Fantasia-, Meraviglia-, Seaside- and World-class ships, and the latter three have private whirlpool tubs, as well. All four classes’ Royal Suites also include separate living room areas.
MSC Yacht Club Owner’s Suites
The largest and most impressive of all MSC’s cabins are the Owner’s Suites found in the Yacht Club. Offering an impressive 840 to 1,119 square feet — larger than some land-based apartments — plus 269- to 670-square-foot balconies, they’re some of the most luxurious rooms afloat. Specific amenities vary by ship, but as an example, Owner’s Suites on MSC World Europa offer floor-to-ceiling windows and walk-in closets. These accommodations on both the line’s Seaside- and World-class vessels also feature bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, as well as private whirlpool tubs and separate living room areas.
Although MSC Cruises’ cabin types are straightforward, the line’s add-on experiences can complicate things a bit.
Overall, what’s key to remember is that MSC Cruises offers a wide variety of rooms and pricing to meet just about any budget or style of cruising. Each ship will offer accommodation choices from the least expensive, bare-bones interior rooms to the priciest suites, which come with butler and concierge services.
When you sail with MSC Cruises, you can expect function, style and comfort, regardless of the cabin type you book.
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