MSC Cruises prides itself on being the Mediterranean specialist, and the line’s Italian roots and array of European itineraries certainly lend to that title. But it isn’t just the Mediterranean that this cruise line does well, because it also caters to the family market in every way possible, starting with the price point! MSC is the only cruise line to have a kid’s sail free promotion, meaning that children aged 17 and under travel for free, allowing families on a budget to explore the world and its wonders. MSC’s ships have a very international feel, with guests coming from across Europe.
The MSC fleet oozes Italian glamour, but for some the décor may seem a little over the top – think Swarovski crystal staircases and bars decked out in animal print. However, within a couple of days you’ll soon see this as part of the cruise line’s charm.
MSC Cruises has one of the newest fleets at sea, with all of its ships being built since 2003. While the line specialises in the Med, it also sails in the Caribbean and through the Middle East, with new sailings introduced to Australia recently too.
In days gone by, MSC wasn’t well known for its cuisine. But in recent years the line has stepped up its game when it comes to its culinary offering.
With everything from the traditional cruise ship buffet to the main dining rooms, this cruise line offers plenty of variety. In the main dining room, you’ll be served a seven course dinner but, of course, you can pick and choose if you can’t manage the whole menu.
The Kaito Sushi bar is a favourite among customers, as is the line’s Tex Mex venue. If you’re lucky enough to be staying in the line’s Yacht Club, available on the newer Fantasia class, then you’ll also get access to an exclusive and private restaurant.
There’s plenty more to this cruise line than its ‘Kids Go Free’ promotion, and MSC delivers a fantastic family product. Whether it’s the kids clubs, basketball courts or teen discos, there’s plenty to keep your little ones occupied. To help parents with young children and babies, the line has prams, bouncers, bottle warmed and baby backpacks available onboard, so you don’t have to worry about cramming it all into your suitcase.
MSC recently partnered with Lego, which means the line will have the first Lego-themed playrooms at sea. The playroom is available on the recently revamped MSC Armonia and it will also be included on two new builts which will set sail in 2017.
But it’s the 4D cinemas, bowling alleys and sports courts which seem to attract teenagers. I also like the fact that teenagers get given an MSC Cruises Teen Card which allows them to independently make small purchases without their parents.
Being an international brand can make the entertainment aspect a little difficult – you have to provide shows which cross language barriers and are easy for all guests to understand. But MSC does this very well. The line’s shows tend to focus on music, for example hits from the 80s, and this makes it a lot easier for everyone watching to follow and understand.
There’s a lot to keep you busy day or night, from arts and crafts to King/Queen of the Seas contests, karaoke to carnival parties, and live bands to acrobat performances.
The décor on MSC can seem a little bit over the top, but you have to take it for what it is – it’s an Italian cruise line and it certainly oozes Italian glamour. The cabins onboard are a good size and MSC prices its cruises based on the experience it offers onboard, rather than the type of cabin you get. For example, you might want to spend more time relaxing in the spa, so you’d book an Aurea experience which includes a treatment in the Aurea spa and access to a private sun deck. If you’ve got a little extra cash to splash on your holiday I’d definitely recommend the Yacht Club. This private area is available on the new Fantasia class ships and it only accessible to those with a suite in the club. Those staying there get direct and private access to the spa and it also has its own private bar, with inclusive drinks and its own restaurant.