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MSC cruise quality / experience?


Titanfan22
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I’ve cruised before, however, never with MSC.  I am planning for a future cruise and have noticed their prices are much less than the other big cruise lines?  The large ships appear to be very nice. Can someone tell me a little bit about MSC?  Just concerned about being setup for disappointment.  Lower cost would be great, but a stressful vacation isn’t worth it. 

Also, looking at cruising in July out of Florida, is it going to happen?

 

Thanks

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Very stylish ships, and the youngest fleet in the business.

My only experience is in Europe, and out of Florida is likely to be different in some ways (eg ship's currency is USD rather than euros) but my experience.......

Dinner is lots of small dishes, lots of pasta, and a long drawn-out meal. Great in the right company, not so great if you've got places to go, things to do.

Coffee not normally served at the end of dinner.

Drinks packages rather than billed as ordered are much better value.

Crew much more reserved than on US ships. Depending on your preference, they're either not so much fun or not so in-your-face.   That's not just the Italian crew, so this is perhaps the way they're trained Can come over as unfriendly, which they're not. 

Great with small kids - that's very much the Italian way.

Smoking policy includes an indoor bar or two, and smoking rules not well-enforced. 

Entertainment is very visual, which helps with language barriers.

A new crew might struggle to get used to American needs (on our MSC cruise, the first out of Southampton, they were frying breakfast eggs two at a time & quite surprised that everyone wanted a cooked breakfast). If it happens, your cruise is likely to be one of the first out of the US for a lot of crew-members.

 

Good value, especially for families, and a good cruise line. But perhaps only enjoyable if you fit in with the Italian way - if you expect a US experience you may be disappointed. 

 

To stress, I've no experience of MSC outside of Europe.

 

JB 🙂

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We've sailed MSC in the Caribbean, and loved it.  We're booked on two more at the moment.

The post above is very good; I would agree with everything there.

One of the things we loved (and others might not) is that American passengers were in the minority.  It really felt like being "away", compared to the Baltimore and Florida cruises we usually do on other lines.  Lots of Europeans, British, South Americans aboard.

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I have sailed three different MSC ships in the Caribbean.  The newer ships (we sailed Divina and Seaside) have lots of bells and whistles (especially Seaside) and plenty of space.  The smallest ships - we sailed Armonia - do not have all the options and are much more subdued.  On Armonia, cabins are much smaller, and balcony cabins resemble the Fantasy class of Carnival as they took OV cabins and tacked balconies onto the sides of the ship.  the ship was also 'stretched' in the past, with a center section added, and therefore the a/c is erratic.  We were in an OV cabin and although it was not warm, it was extremely humid.  

As far as service, in the US (as opposed to Europe) ice water is supplied at meals, and they might ask if you want coffee at dessert time.  Salad bars are not as extensive as on US based lines.  We found clothing not as casual, especially in the evenings.  Bathing attire was sometimes a bit brief...  Great value for the money.  EM

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Posted (edited)

I've sailed Carnival, Royal, Holland, NCL, Princess and MSC. MSC right now will give you the best bang for your buck. The food is good, the entertainment is good, their onboard service is great, their ships are beautiful. The newer ones from The Seaside up are great. I too was nervous a couple years ago but we loved our famiky of four cruise on the Seaside out of Miami. Price couldn't be beat and so many still don't know about MSC. I am booked again for my family for 14 days on the Seashore next year out of Miami. Better book soon my cruise went up $500 yesterday. 

Edited by tallnthensome
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41 minutes ago, Two Wheels Only said:

 

Pun intended? 🙈

 

I have so many pictures to support this (no matter what your preference). 😄

No pun...string bikinis/thongs more common among the European guests...male & female...  European guests also tended to dress up a bit more in the evenings, especially the ladies.  EM

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Great ships that are well-maintained.  Very good entertainment.  Poor customer service.  Average food.  Overall, a very good value. Once you get your cabin reservation the way you want it to look, try not to call, as they'll often mess things up worse.  Safety protocols outwardly seem extremely strong.  Poor rewards program (Voyagers Club) in terms of perks, but very good in terms of discounts on certain sailings.  The status match is also a positive.

Somewhat less friendly crews than most American cruise lines.  More diverse passengers than American cruise lines, which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.  Long announcements in many languages.

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I like MSC especially the price and beautiful ships. But I don't want to keep going back to the same old Caribbean ports time and again. MSC used to offer good New England cruises out of New York but this is now discontinued.

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7 hours ago, Stockjock said:

.  Long announcements in many languages.

 

That's something I didn't comment on, because my only MSC experience has been in Europe.

Yes, certainly in Europe announcements are in a number of languages, but that's true of most US ships as well.

It makes a big difference which language is first, because in public areas if it's Italian first other languages can be drowned-out by excited Italian passengers discussing what they've just heard or just carrying on with their conversations.

(on US ships that we've sailed in Europe, English has been first -  and it's only just occurred to me that Italians, Spaniards, Germans etc might have found the same difficulty  🤔 ) 

 

So, Stockjock or others, which way round is it on MSC on your side of the Pond ?

 

JB 🙂

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19 hours ago, John Bull said:

Dinner is lots of small dishes, lots of pasta, and a long drawn-out meal. Great in the right company, not so great if you've got places to go, things to do.

 

I agree with most you say, but certainly not this one, since my experience was the opposite. In the main diningroom MSC has two or three seatings. Especially the first seating is a quick one (an hour or less). After 90 minutes you'll be ushured out so they can clean up for the next group.

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Re announcements, on US sailings:  They are in five languages, but each one is fairly brief, and only for important things such as readiness for disembarkation in port.  They did not make announcements about jewelry sales, art auctions, etc. etc. as many other US lines do.

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I have only sailed on MSC and Carnival. For my money MSC is the better of the two. I'm looking for a more relaxing type of cruise. MSC (I've been on the Divina and Seaside) has nice, quiet places to relax. I'm sure Carnival does as well, but MSC comes off as classier.

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22 hours ago, Titanfan22 said:

I’ve cruised before, however, never with MSC.  I am planning for a future cruise and have noticed their prices are much less than the other big cruise lines?  The large ships appear to be very nice. Can someone tell me a little bit about MSC?  Just concerned about being setup for disappointment.  Lower cost would be great, but a stressful vacation isn’t worth it. 

Also, looking at cruising in July out of Florida, is it going to happen?

 

Thanks

Can't say about July in Florida, it all depends on what happens with the state of Florida and the CDC. I'm sure MSC would love to be sailing from there again.

We love MSC for the European vibe, even though our only 2 cruises with MSC were from Miami, it felt like being in Europe. We are passionate about Italy and had the opportunity to speak Italian a lot with a number of the officers. Crew were very friendly and hospitable, food was excellent (esp in the Yacht Club) and their ships are gorgeous. Their prices are highly competitive. Some people landside have had poor customer service experiences, but not us. Everyone has been great, we use a travel agent for our bookings, but I've phoned MSC a few times to ask questions and they've always answered right away and been very helpful. The one thing I would caution against since I don't know you or your background is that it isn't like mass-market US lines. Some people have expected a non-stop party atmosphere surrounded by nothing but Americans, speaking (and hearing) only English spoken. MSC is different. Which we like. I love conversing in French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, etc. because I love Europe. If you're like us, you'll have a fantastic time. MSC is our favorite cruise line. I hope this information has been of use to you.

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We now cruise between Carnival and MSC, discovered MSC about three years ago, have been on Divina and Seaside and Armonia and Meraviglia, would not hesitate to sail on anyone of them again, have four booked into 2022. Everyone has different experiences on various cruise lines, we certainly have no regrets since cruising with MSC, nothing disappointing, nothing stressful. 

22 hours ago, Titanfan22 said:

I’ve cruised before, however, never with MSC.  I am planning for a future cruise and have noticed their prices are much less than the other big cruise lines?  The large ships appear to be very nice. Can someone tell me a little bit about MSC?  Just concerned about being setup for disappointment.  Lower cost would be great, but a stressful vacation isn’t worth it. 
 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, sealynx said:

 

I agree with most you say, but certainly not this one, since my experience was the opposite. In the main diningroom MSC has two or three seatings. Especially the first seating is a quick one (an hour or less). After 90 minutes you'll be ushured out so they can clean up for the next group.


Thanks for the correction. 🙂

As I emphasised, my MSC experience is only in Europe and that some things will be different out of Florida.

Oh, and another factor. We always go for late sitting - partly because others on late sitting are the sort of folk we tend to gel with, partly because we're not rushed out to make way for the next sitting. Mebbe first sittings on European cruises have always had the quick service you've experienced.

 

BTW, glad that MSC are now being so well-received in the States - in their early days over the Pond they got a lot of negative reviews from folk who expected an "American" experience. I'll hazard a guess that the more positive experiences are partly because folk now accept the pros & cons of an Italian ship and go with the flow, and partly because MSC have adapted a little to their more-recently--found market.

 

 

JB 🙂

Edited by John Bull
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I would recommend MSC Yacht Club.  You get treated like royalty and the cost is very reasonable.  The Yacht Club gives you the experience of being on a small luxury cruise yet if you want the ammenities of a large ship then they are available.  The YC features separate dining room, pool deck and lounge for YC passengers which is lovely because there are not the crowds and finding a deck chair was never an issue.  I particularly liked the embarkation process for YC and the escort on and off the ship so there was no waiting in long lines.  On Meraviglia there were dedicated elevators for YC as well. We sailed MSC out of Barcelona and it was mostly European passengers.  I enjoyed that.  Treat yourself and book a YC cabin...you will not regret it.

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Agree with geologyrx on the Yacht Club. We've sailed a half-dozen times with MSC on various ships. Five times in the Yacht Club and one time outside the Yacht Club. The differences are substantial:

 

1. The biggest difference was dining. The YC food is much better than the main dining room. Also, the main dining room on our non YC cruise was communal seating and designated time dining. We prefer anytime dining which you can get with the Aurea package. However, this package is often similar in price to the YC. 

 

2. The dedicated YC outdoor space is excellent. No getting up early to secure deck chairs. Dedicated bar, pool, restaurant, etc. Just a completely different and better experience than the main deck. 

 

3. The Top Sail Lounge is my favorite room on the ship. Spacious, great view and a good place to visit before or after dinner or when you just want to enjoy the view. We sailed frequently in the NCL Haven before MSC arrived in the U.S., and the Top Sail Lounge is far superior to the Haven lounge. 

 

4. Once in the YC, you don't worry about crowds on the ship. This can be a significant benefit if you sail on one of MSC's mega ships with almost 6,000 guests. 

 

MSC's newer ships have interior staterooms in the YC. Often these rooms are at a substantial discount to a balcony YC. We did an interior YC in Europe and it was fine. With the many amenities in the YC, we were basically only in our room to sleep and shower. You get the full YC experience often at a great price. 

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On 5/20/2021 at 11:29 AM, John Bull said:

 

That's something I didn't comment on, because my only MSC experience has been in Europe.

Yes, certainly in Europe announcements are in a number of languages, but that's true of most US ships as well.

It makes a big difference which language is first, because in public areas if it's Italian first other languages can be drowned-out by excited Italian passengers discussing what they've just heard or just carrying on with their conversations.

(on US ships that we've sailed in Europe, English has been first -  and it's only just occurred to me that Italians, Spaniards, Germans etc might have found the same difficulty  🤔 ) 

 

So, Stockjock or others, which way round is it on MSC on your side of the Pond ?

 

JB 🙂

 

Our very first cruise was on a european cruise line - Festival and the ship was Mistral. 

 

It was a caribbean sailing and they had got tbings just right. 

 

Each staff member had a badge with the flag of each countries language they spoke - some crew proudly wore 6 badges. 

 

For announcements, they did them based on the number of guests for each of 6 languages. 

 

The clever thing was they did them in reverse order - perhaps German first if 50 guests, then in french with 100 guests, italian with 150 guests and so on - so the noise slowly built as each language was spoken 

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On 5/20/2021 at 9:31 AM, geologyrx said:

I would recommend MSC Yacht Club

 

As do I.  Most of the reasons that geologyrax and others posted about their YC experiences are supported by me.  

 

On 5/19/2021 at 11:30 AM, John Bull said:

Crew much more reserved than on US ships.

 

I did not find that when I sailed in YC on Meraviglia.  I felt that my Butler and the YC bartender was a bit "reserved" at times, but the Assistant Butler, an Filipino woman was as friendly as any Filipino cruise members I have encountered on HAL, Princess, or Carnival.  YC Restaurant Stewards and Top Sail Butlers were friendly.  Outside of YC, the bartenders at the Meraviglia Lounge and at the mid-ship's pool bar,  and the pizza "parlor" that I patronized were pleasant and conversational when they had time.  

 

On 5/19/2021 at 11:30 AM, John Bull said:

Entertainment

 

Main Theater cast production shows were excellent and very enjoyable.  Single acts differed in quality (but that is not news to any experienced cruiser).  Small combos were very good and offered a variety of different styles of music.  When was the last time that you sailed on a cruise when an abbreviated version of an opera was presented with the male and female leads having "opera quality" voices?  Their Atrium's ceiling brief shows that changed daily was an unexpected pleasure for me.

 

On 5/20/2021 at 9:31 AM, geologyrx said:

  On Meraviglia there were dedicated elevators for YC as well.

 

When a YC guest could snag one, which was my experience.  When the Main Theater show is over, that forward elevator foyer is jammed backed with guests and YC guests will want to try to use the elevators in that foyer, not one further aft.  The first time I experienced this, my thought was that I would go to the Meraviglia Lounge for a drink and let the crowd disappear.  Getting through the mass of humanity, when I could do so, the Lounge would be packed.   I really did not find this "perk" to be of much value.  

 

I did not find what announcements that I heard in different languages to be irritating.  I expected it and accepted it.  Having guests from such diverse regions is interesting.  During the CC M&G, I managed to find a seat opposite a young couple who were Russian.  My Russian was less than their English.  Lots of sign language; an interesting experience.

 

YC disembarkation was not as "advertised" and that others on CC have posted.  Long lines at the terminal in Miami to get through Customs/Immigration, but MSC's ground staff were great.  The gentleman that helped me snagged a Porter who got my luggage and they both stayed with me until I got to my car in the parking garage across the street.  The Porter even loaded my luggage into my car.  

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On 5/20/2021 at 3:47 AM, sfaaa said:

I like MSC especially the price and beautiful ships. But I don't want to keep going back to the same old Caribbean ports time and again. MSC used to offer good New England cruises out of New York but this is now discontinued.


I imagine the Canadian cruises will be back as the Covid restrictions continue to lift. I’d also like MSC to go back to sailing further south in the Caribbean. Too many of their current sailings revolve around Ocean Cay. 

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On 5/20/2021 at 9:31 AM, geologyrx said:

I would recommend MSC Yacht Club.  You get treated like royalty and the cost is very reasonable.  The Yacht Club gives you the experience of being on a small luxury cruise yet if you want the ammenities of a large ship then they are available.  The YC features separate dining room, pool deck and lounge for YC passengers which is lovely because there are not the crowds and finding a deck chair was never an issue.  I particularly liked the embarkation process for YC and the escort on and off the ship so there was no waiting in long lines.  On Meraviglia there were dedicated elevators for YC as well. We sailed MSC out of Barcelona and it was mostly European passengers.  I enjoyed that.  Treat yourself and book a YC cabin...you will not regret it.

How much more is the YC experience?

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MSC Cruises are cheap by comparison to most others and you get what you pay for without doubt.  Check out Cruise critic Reviews of the ship, most are 3star rated whilst Princess, HAL and Celebrity are 4+star rated.  MSC Yacht Club is double / treble the standard cabin prices and the difference is incomparable as other have said.  Is YC worth it, Not anymore.  
The important question to ask, is MSC trustworthy?  Answer - definitely NOT.

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32 minutes ago, mickey89 said:

MSC Cruises are cheap by comparison to most others and you get what you pay for without doubt.  Check out Cruise critic Reviews of the ship, most are 3star rated whilst Princess, HAL and Celebrity are 4+star rated.  MSC Yacht Club is double / treble the standard cabin prices and the difference is incomparable as other have said.  Is YC worth it, Not anymore....

It is a looooooong time since these lines were 4+ star rated! All the mass cruise lines, and they are all in that category, began initiating cutbacks about a decade ago and certainly in the past 5 years all have declined in terms of their standard offering. 😉

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I’ve sailed MSC in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Both were enjoyable but we found MSC to offer a better product in the Med than in the Caribbean. 
 

I would rank MSC to be one notch above Carnival, and one notch below Royal Caribbean. Solidly a mass market cruise line, but with a European flavor. Their newer ships are truly beautiful. 

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