Thus far in my cruising career, I've cruised three cruise lines: Carnival, Royal Caribbean and now MSC (Princess is up next). Before cruising MSC, I would say that for the most part everything is about the same. On most American cruise lines, you already know what to expect and each line just adds their own flavor to the mix. But MSC, being Italian, was a little different.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. Please check out my disclosure policy for more details.
Oh the food! Food on cruise ships are generally very good. In my 19 cruises, I can't say that I've had a cruise where my meals were terrible. What I loved on MSC was the VARIETY. Oh my! Because they are an international line, they provide food for their international passengers. Makes sense, right? So they had Mediteranean meats and cheeses, dishes from Germany, England and of course Italy. I was able to get a sunny side or over easy egg at the breakfast buffet. That alone is the main reason I eat breakfast in the main dining room on other lines – the eggs! They also had themed nights in the main dining room. It was a nice touch.
Below is a video of my walk around the buffet at lunchtime. It literally took me 5 minutes!
You know how you encounter the rare european on an American cruise line? Well, on MSC, the passengers are mostly European. You're lucky to encounter other passengers that speak english. The really cool thing is that everybody says hello in their language when they got on the elevator. And it was really nice that you couldn't tell by looking at a person what country they were from, so it was always a nice surprise to hear their language.
The other thing to admire is the lingusitic skills of the crew. The cabin to our left was Portugese and the cabin to our right was German. Our room steward had to speak at least three languages in order to serve us properly. Imagine how many other nationalities were in his area?!
The waitstaff went from table to table speaking the appropriate language with ease. We asked our waiter how many languages he spoke and he said four. I feel so unaccomplished!
Have you seen how beautiful their ships are? Read my blog post here to see all of the beautiful photos of the ship. When you enter the ship for the first time, you see the beautiful Swarovsky Crystal Staircases. The welcome was friendly and more sedate than on a Carnival ship. The DJ played EDM instead of Caribbean music. Different, but still good. I love EDM.
At first glance, having to choose an experience seemed more complicated than just booking a simple cruise. However, after choosing and cruising with the Aurea experience, I think it was well worth the upfront effort to see what would be compatible with how I like to cruise. As you go up levels in MSC's experiences, you get more perks. Aurea is just a level below Yacht Club. We received complimentary drink packages, wristbands and massages. We had our own bar. We got priority boarding, debarkation and reservations in the main dining room. It didn't cost that much more than Bella or Fantastica and it seemed to provide so much more. If I decide to do Yacht Club, which is always highly recommended by anyone who's cruised Yacht Club on MSC, I don't know if I would be able to go back to cruising like regular folk. ?
Now, I was only able to make it to two shows. But the two I went to were pretty awesome. Instead of the regular singing and dancing we're used to, the shows were more along the lines of Cirque du Soleil. Lots of acrobatics. And the pièce de résistance was the Michael Jackson show. If you don't make it to anything else, make it to that show. Seriously!
The Photo Package
OMG! The photo packages are awesome! We paid $150 for the All-inclusive digital photo package. Now Mom normally hates taking any photos at all. But I told that lady that she would be posing daily at every available station. She told me later that she enjoyed taking the photos. We received over 200 photos from our cruise. We never have to take another formal cruise photo the rest of our lives. ?
Other Things We Noticed Crusing MSC
- Lots of infants! They were not as distracting as I thought they might be. And very cute!
- The ambiance was more sedate while still hosting the same activities you see on other cruise lines.
Have you been on an MSC Cruise? What did you find different from other mainstream American cruise lines?