Planning an MSC Seaside Cruise

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Cruise addicts around the world know that the anticipation and planning are what keeps us going until we board that next ship!  The only thing that surpasses planning a cruise is actually being on one.

The majority of my cruises have been on Carnival Cruise Line, but I’ve had a few Royal Caribbean cruises thrown in there.  There’s not a whole lot to planning those cruises in comparison to planning an MSC cruise.  The major choices in planning a cruise are:

  • Itinerary
  • Embarkation Port
  • Cabin Type
  • Transportation to the Port
  • Port of Call Excursions

There are a few other customizations you can look into like a drinks package and spa services, but the above is generally okay for a cruise on Carnival or Royal Caribbean.  Not for MSC though.  The MSC experience is an EXPERIENCE and it’s got me excited!

Choose your MSC Experience

MSC offers different experiences depending on what you want to get out of a cruise.

“Bella” Experience

This experience offers all the benefits of cruising with the lowest priced staterooms.  You’ll still get fine dining with traditional seating, world-class entertainment, recreation and more.  Bella is only available with interior, oceanview, and balcony cabins.

“Fantastica” Experience

This includes everything you get with the “Bella” experience plus premium location cabins as well as first choice of early or late dining assignments.  You also get 50 percent off all fitness classes and personal training, free delivery of room service between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., and cooking and foreign language classes for children. “Fantastica” pricing is available for interior, oceanview and balcony cabin bookings.

“Aurea” Experience

The “Aurea” experience includes everything in “Fantastica” plus first choice of balcony cabins and suites and flexible dining times in the main dining room.  It also includes priority boarding, an unlimited alcoholic, and nonalcoholic beverage package, a spa package with free massage and private consultation, and access to the adults-only Top 18 sun deck. Aurea pricing is available for Aurea-designated balconies, as well as suites.

Yacht Club

At the top tier is MSC Yacht Club which is an all-inclusive experience.  You'll have access to a private club with keycard access, priority check-in and check-out, butler and concierge service, a Yacht Club-only lounge and pool, 24/7 free alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks within the Yacht Club area and access to a private Yacht Club restaurant.

Click here for the MSC Experience Comparison Chart.

So what did we choose? Here are a few things that went into our decision:

MSC DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO BRING ALCOHOL ONBOARD

Most cruise lines allow passengers to bring one bottle of wine or champagne in their carry-on.  This is not the case with MSC.  While I'm not a huge drinker, I am on vacation and would like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without having to worry about the cost.

I NEED PRIORITY BOARDING AND LUGGAGE

I admit it.  I am a spoiled platinum Carnival cruiser who is used to being able to board early and have luggage delivered, unpacked and put away before muster.  Once you experience the ability to be on the ship as early as 11:30 am and in your cabin with time to get settled in before the crush, you'll never want to go back to boarding with the crowd.

I LIKE TO CHOOSE MY CABIN LOCATION

I am pretty specific with my cabin location preferences:

  • Port-side
  • Mid-ship
  • Cabins above and below

While you can't always predict how the ship will dock, port-side cabins are usually, well, port-side.  I like to people watch and this allows me a heaping dose of people to watch.  When I get back to my cabin and have settled in before the ship leaves, I'm on my balcony watching folk come and go.  There's also the occasional pier runner that can add excitement.  Will they make it?  Yes, they will.  I've only been on a few cruises where the ship has left passengers.  But that was after sitting in port for an hour or two waiting for them to come back.

Mid-ship cabins are in the middle of everything so it's not hard to get to anything!  Even if I need to go all the way forward, or all the way aft, my starting point is in the middle so it's really not that far.  I've had an aft cabin and my dining room was forward.  I can tell you I had worked up my appetite by the time I got there! LOL

With cabins above and cabins below, I only have to worry about the noise of other passengers instead of the possible noise from public venues like dining rooms, bars, and even the nightclub.  Most of the time, passengers are fairly quiet.  Except for that one time we were next door to a couple that yelled and argued the entire time…

Having said all that, we chose the Aurea experience and we are really looking forward to it!  We are not generally spa people, but we are looking forward to getting our free massages.  I'm going to consult my resident cruise spa expert (my cousin) to help us choose the best one.

An added bonus is that MSC does status match.  They'll match your status to other loyalty programs, including hotel programs.  We're platinum on Carnival, so that made us MSC Voyagers Club Gold which is just one step below their highest tier, Black.  Click here to learn more about Voyagers Club and Status Match.  I look forward to the 5% discount off the price of our cruise as well as the cute gifts cruise lines offer to their loyal passengers.

And this is just the beginning!

Have you ever cruised with MSC?  How did you choose your experience?

32 thoughts on “Planning an MSC Seaside Cruise

  1. Thank you for the tips! Sounds like I would enjoy the priority boarding and luggage too 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have those perks.

  2. I’ve never been on a cruise and thanks to this article, I know way more about cruising that I did before. Thanks!

  3. Interesting. I’ve never heard of MSC. I feel spoiled with Disney, like boarding early, choosing my room, and things like that. I would for sure want that with other cruise lines.

    1. Those things are premium now. Even Carnival has you pay extra if you’re not Platinum or Diamond.

  4. Sounds like fun, have been on 2 cruises but it has been years ago. Would love to do another one, as ships have changed so much since I went on a cruise.

  5. This sounds incredible! You’re making me want to go on another cruise right now! Can’t wait to hear about your trip (hopefully you will write a post about it) when you get back!

    1. I will definitely write a post about the trip! Go ahead and book your next cruise to help you get over your last one! 😜

  6. I have been dying to try and MSC cruise! Can’t wait to see how you like it once on board. It just looks different than the other brands.

  7. Whooa! I actually learned so much from this post. I took one cruise with my family last year, and I had no idea what I was doing! Great info, very useful! Thanks so much! 🙂

  8. I have never heard of that cruise line before. I’ll have to check it out!

    1. They are just starting to get into the US market. Lots of folks seem to love them!

  9. My mom did an MSC cruise in Europe and really loved the company. I definitely need to check it out!

    1. I’ve heard really great things about them. I plan to try them in Europe too!

  10. I’ve never heard about MSC but it’s good to know of the differences – like you I don’t think bare bones would cut it for me!

    1. Maybe if I was a first-time cruiser on a budget. But I’ve been spoiled and have standards now. 😂

  11. That’s really a lot to think about. Thanks for describing the different tiers. I’ve only cruised twice–both times on Carnival.

    1. My pleasure! MSC is night and day from Carnival. But I’ve heard great things about them, so we thought we’d give them a try.

  12. Sometimes I have a hard time with tiers because I usually can only afford the first one. I feel like Disney is starting to do this.

    1. I haven’t cruised Disney yet. I’ll have to look into the tiers they have.

  13. Great comprehensive list for cruises. There are things here I never even thought of.

  14. We have not cruised with them yet. We would choose the MSC Yacht Club for the an all-inclusive experience.

    1. I don’t know if I could come back home without a butler. 😂

  15. I’ve cruised on Disney and Carnival ~ very different from each other, too. I have never heard of MSC, so I’ll have to take a peek at that one.

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