Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises: Which Cruise Line is Best for You?

Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises

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Are you planning on booking a cruise vacation and comparing Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises to see which cruise line is best for you? This is a great question since these are both popular and well-loved cruise lines.

While Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises do share some similarities, there are some important differences to be aware of. As someone who has enjoyed cruising with both MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean, I know first-hand that each cruise line have so much to offer.

With that being said, here’s everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.

Why Cruisers Like Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean cruise ships at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean is part of the Royal Caribbean Group, formerly known as Royal Caribbean International. Royal Caribbean is considered to be a contemporary cruise line known for its great entertainment, as well as for having the most innovative and largest cruise ships in the world.

Here Are the Reasons Why Cruisers Like Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Cruise Ship Design

If you’ve never sailed with Royal Caribbean, Royal Caribbean cruise ships will blow your mind.

Royal Caribbean is home to some of the most innovative and incredible cruise ships at sea. Royal Caribbean’s Icon-Class are the largest cruise ships at sea, at over 248,000 tons and more than 7,600 passengers.

These incredible cruise ships offer more features and attractions than any other cruise line. If you want to sail on a cruise ship with tons of activities, check out the Icon-Class and Oasis-Class cruise ships (approximately 220,000 tons).

Furthermore, the Quantum-Class ships have great onboard attractions as well. Although they are a bit smaller in size (approximately 160,000 tons) and have a capacity of over 4,500 passengers, the Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-Class is well-loved and popular with families and kids.

Royal Caribbean’s older cruise ship designs are still great. However, you won’t find some of the bells and whistles that are present on their newer ships. Furthermore, you may notice some signs of age on these ships, as they can be over 15 to 20 years old.

Sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s older ships is a great way to cruise for less. This is ideal for families going on their first cruise or those cruising on a budget.

Before booking your cruise, it’s important to research the cruise ships and itineraries to find the perfect cruise for you.

Related: The Best Royal Caribbean Ships For Families

Cruise Line Private Island

Perfect Day at CocoCay

When it comes to cruise line private islands, nobody does it like Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at Cococay truly is a special place to visit.

The great thing about cruising to the Bahamas or the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean is that many of their itineraries stop at Perfect Day at Cococay. Whether you’re sailing on a brand new Icon-Class cruise ship or an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship, chances are you’ll visit Cococay when you book a Caribbean itinerary.

Included: Perfect Day at Cococay has multiple beaches, a large pool, activities for kids, bars for adults, a waterpark, and even a beach club. Furthermore, complimentary snack shacks are located around the island, and two barbeque-style buffets are also included.

Extra charge: If you’re a thrill seeker, you have to visit Cococay’s waterpark. Here, you will find Daredevils Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America.

When you visit Cococay you can book zip lining, snorkeling, and jet ski excursions. There is also a hot air balloon, which provides an amazing view of the island.

Related: 35+ Best Things To Do In Perfect Day at CocoCay

Variety of Dining Options & Restaurants

main dining room freedom of the seas older cruise ship

When you sail with Royal Caribbean, there are many dining options to choose from. There’s a variety of included restaurants and specialty restaurants that do cost extra.

The free casual dining options include Windjammer Marketplace (buffet), El Loco Fresh, Sorrento’s Pizza, Cafe Promenade, and Central Park Cafe (on select ships). If you’re looking for a nice sit-down meal, the main dining room is a great included dining option.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships also offer a wide variety of specialty restaurants, which do cost extra. If you’d like to try a few of these restaurants, consider purchasing the Ultimate Dining Package so you can try them all.

Related: Is The Key Worth It On Royal Caribbean? Pros & Cons

Family Friendly Environment

Royal Caribbean is known for having a fun, family-friendly environment. Onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, you’ll find dining options, activities, and events that cater to families with kids, teenagers, and young adults.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships tend to attract families with kids of all ages and cruisers who are young at heart. Many people love the Adventure Ocean kid’s club, which ranges from nursery to 17 years of age.

Those who cruise with Royal Caribbean as a family love this cruise line as there is something for everyone. Royal Caribbean truly is the ultimate cruise line for family vacations.

Related: What to Pack for Children on a Cruise (Kid’s Cruise Packing List)

Included Activities & Onboard Attractions


Royal Caribbean cruise ships are known for having some of the best onboard activities at sea. When you cruise with Royal Caribbean, there’s no shortage of things to do.

The onboard attractions range from family-friendly activities to exciting thrills. Here’s a list of the activities you’ll find on Royal Caribbean cruise ships:

Activities Onboard Royal Caribbean:

  • Ice Skating
  • Silent Disco
  • Rock Climbing
  • Laser Tag
  • Water Slides
  • Escape Room
  • Splash Park
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Basketball Courts
  • Mini Golf
  • Bumper Karts
  • Zip Lining
  • The Ultimate Abyss (10 story dry slide)
  • Crowns Edge
  • iFly Skydiving

One of the amazing parts about sailing with Royal Caribbean is that many of their cruise ship activities are included. This is especially important for families, as paying extra for activities can add up and blow your cruise vacation budget.

Related: 15 Tips for Planning a Cruise for Your Large Family


Ice Skating Show

Royal Caribbean offers some of the best entertainment at sea. Known for offering a wide range of entertainment, from ice skating shows to musical performances and magicians, it’s hard to beat the entertainment on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Since Royal Caribbean has the largest cruise ships at sea, there are multiple entertainment venues onboard. On select ships, you’ll find aqua shows at the Aqua Theater, ice skating shows at the Ice Rink, comedians, and Broadway-style shows.

The great thing about cruise with Royal Caribbean is that multiple shows happen every night. This means you will have plenty of entertainment options every night of your cruise vacation.

Kids & Teens Club

Royal Caribbean has one of the best youth programs in the cruise industry. If you’re cruising with kids, take advantage of Adventure Ocean, Royal Caribbeans kid’s club.

Royal Caribbean offers of of the best youth program in the cruise industry. If you’re cruising with kids, take advantage of Adventure ocean, Royal Caribbean kid’s club.

The Adventure Ocean Kid’s Club is a supervised program where kids between the ages of 3 and 17 can make new friends, hang out, and participate in activities in a safe and supervised environment.

Kids and teenagers are separated by age group, and there are plenty of activities for all ages.

As someone who grew up cruising, I know first-hand how fun the kid’s clubs are on Royal Caribbean. As a kid, my parents could not get me out of the kid’s club because I enjoyed it so much!

On select Royal Caribbean cruise ships, there is a nursery for 6 to 36-month-old children. Royal Caribbean is one of the only cruise lines that offers a nursery for young children.

Related: Best Royal Caribbean Ships For Families

Why Cruisers Like MSC Cruises


Cruise Ship Design

MSC Cruises is known for having cruise ships with stunning designs. Onboard an MSC cruise ship, you’ll find beautiful pool areas, Swarovski crystal staircases, and multiple bar and lounge areas with a modern design.

When you step onboard an MSC cruise ship, you may notice some inspiration from Royal Caribbean cruise ships. For instance, MSC World-Class cruise ships have a boardwalk area that resembles the boardwalk on Oasis-Class cruise ships.

So, if you’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean, cruising with MSC may feel somewhat familiar to you.

The MSC Seaside-Class is one of my favorite cruise ship designs at sea. These cruise ships feature a wake infinity pool area where you can swim while experiencing stunning ocean views.

Furthermore, Seaside-Class cruise ships have the Bridge of Sighs, which is a great place for taking pictures and taking in the ocean views.

MSC Cruises offers short 4-day cruises on some of their older cruise ships. This is ideal for those looking to cruise on a budget or wanting a short getaway.

Overall, MSC Cruises has amazing ship designs that are easy to navigate, family-friendly, and absolutely stunning.

Cruise Line Private Island

MSC Ocean Cay

MSC Cruises has an amazing private Island called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. In fact some cruise passengers claim that Ocean Cay feels more natural and beautiful that other cruise line private islands.

Although it does not have all the attractions you would find at Perfect Day at Cococay, Ocean Cay has stunning white sand beaches and crystal blue water.

The great thing about Ocean Cay is that it’s very calm. Our cruise ship was the only one in port when we were there, meaning we had the whole island to ourselves.

This made it very easy to find a quiet spot on the beach and relax or go to a bar and order a drink. If you enjoy relaxing at the beach, you will enjoy Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Related: 10 Mistakes to Avoid on Cruise Private Islands

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Dining Options & Restaurants

MSC Seascape main dining room

MSC has a lot to offer when it comes to food and dining. However, when comparing Royal Caribbean to MSC Cruises, you’ll notice that there are more casual dining options on Royal Caribbean.

On MSC, the main dining room and large buffet are included. Several specialty restaurants are available for an enhanced dining experience at an extra charge.

Dining Room

The main dining room is open daily for breakfast and dinner, and lunch on sea days.


The buffet is open throughout the day, starting at breakfast and ending late in the evening time. There is always a wide variety of tasty food options.

You’ll find classic hot and cold dishes, cheese and charcuterie meats, burgers and fries, salads and fresh fruit. Plus, MSC has some of the best pizza at sea!

Specialty Restaurants

MSC offers a variety of specialty restaurants ranging from an American-style steakhouse to Mexican cuisine and a sushi restaurant.

Overall, the dining at MSC is very good. Although they don’t have food options all around the ship like you would find on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, you can still grab food throughout the day in the buffet.

Related: 13 Cruise Main Dining Room Tips Cruisers Need to Know

Family Friendly Environment

MSC cruises

Onboard MSC Cruises, you’ll find a family-friendly environment. With entertainment, activities, and food options geared towards families, it’s easy to have an amazing family vacation on an MSC Cruise.

The clientele onboard an MSC Cruise can vary and you’ll find couples to families. Onboard our recent MSC cruise, there were a lot of kids. However, there were many areas for the kids to play, so it kept them from going to the quieter parts of the cruise ship.

Furthermore, there is an adult-only pool area onboard MSC cruises. This is ideal for cruisers who want some peace and quiet throughout their cruise vacation.

Unique Cruise Experience

Since MSC Cruises is an Italian cruise line, the passenger demographic tends to be more European. It’s important to be aware of this, as some of the cruise passengers may not speak English.

If you’re cruising out of the United States, there will still be many American and English-speaking cruisers. However, English may be less common if you’re taking a Mediterranean or other European cruise.

Furthermore, you may notice some differences onboard an MSC cruise as they cater towards a European clientele. For instance, the hot tubs will be colder, there will be more smokers, and there will be healthier food options.

You’ll also notice more men wearing speedos on the pool deck than we typically see on American cruise lines.

Related: 15 Things You Need To Know Before Cruising With MSC

Onboard Attractions & Included Activities

MSC Robotron

MSC offers a wide variety of onboard attractions and included activities. When it comes to activities and attractions on a cruise ship, MSC competes directly with Royal Caribbean.

Onboard an MSC cruise, you will find activities for all ages. These activities can range from splash pads for young children to thrill rides for adrenaline junkies!

Here are the activities you’ll find on an MSC cruise:

  • Robotron Thrill Ride
  • Zip Lines
  • Cliffhanger Swing (MSC World America)
  • Venom Drop Dry Slide (11-story dry slide)
  • Water Slides
  • Splash Park
  • Sports Court
  • Video Game Arcade
  • F1 Simulator
  • Bowling & Mini Blowing
  • 4D Cinemas
  • Mini Golf

Overall, MSC Cruises has a lot to offer when it comes to onboard activities. Whether you’re cruising with young children, teenagers, or young adults, they will always have something to do on an MSC cruise.

Related: Best MSC Cruise Ships For Families & Kids


MSC Seascape White Party

Although Royal Caribbean offers a wider variety and higher-quality entertainment, MSC still has some great options. Onboard an MSC cruise, there are dancing and singing shows every evening in the theater, as well as comedian and other guest performances.

Throughout the cruise, there will be game shows, karaoke, and many themed parties. There is no shortage of entertainment on an MSC cruise, and there are many ways to enjoy your evening when you are onboard.

The party starts in the nightclub as it gets later in the evening. MSC has some great parties, and they can go very late into the evening (between 2 and 3 am).

Related: 20 Best Things To Do On MSC Seascape

Kids & Teens Club

MSC has a youth program for children ranging from 1 to 17 years old. There will be 5 different clubs to give each age group their own space to hang out, and activities catered for their age range.

Children and teenagers can participate in activities, play video games, meet new friends, and enjoy themed parties at the kids and teens club.

The kids club is a safe and fun place to leave your children while you enjoy the rest of the cruise ship.

Related: 7 Affordable Cruise Lines for Families (Kids Sail Free Deals)

MSC Yacht Club

The MSC Yacht Club is one of the major reasons why people love cruising with MSC. When you sail in the MSC Yacht Club, you’ll have access to your private pool area, private restaurants, and 24/7 butler and concierge service.

If you’re looking to take your cruise experience to a different level, then consider booking the MSC Yacht Club. You’ll also get unlimited drinks, luxury suites, and priority embarkation and debarkation.

Although the MSC Yacht Club is expensive, this experience is rated highly among cruisers.

Related: Why We’re Excited for MSC World America

So Which Cruise Line Is Best for You? Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises

Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises share many similarities and target the similar passenger demographics. For the most part, those who enjoy Royal Caribbean will enjoy MSC, and those who enjoy MSC will enjoy Royal Caribbean.

These cruise lines offer amazing ships loaded with family-friendly activities and attractions. You will have an amazing time regardless of which cruise line you choose.

However, there are differences between the two contemporary cruise lines that will make one a better fit for different types of cruisers.

Royal Caribbean Is Best for:

Royal Caribbean amazing Oasis class cruise ship aqua theater

Those who are cruising as a family or those who are young at heart. Since Royal Caribbean is packed with activities and attractions, there is always something to do.

Compared to MSC, Royal Caribbean does cost more, so this is something to consider when booking a cruise. However, they do have better entertainment, more varied and plentiful food options and more included activities.

Furthermore, Perfect Day at Cococay is a more activity filled private island that Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. So, if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, this may play a factor in your decision.

MSC Cruises Is Best for:

MSC Seascape Infinity Pool

Those who enjoy cruising as a family or with friends and enjoy a fun cruise environment. Since MSC has plenty of activities and an active nightlife, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

MSC Cruises is also great for people who enjoy experiencing and connecting with people from different cultures.

Compared to Royal Caribbean, MSC cruises are more affordable. In fact, offers MSC the best bang for your buck when it comes to a cruise vacation.

If you’re new to cruising and you want to see if you’ll like it, then cruising with MSC is a great idea. Furthermore, MSC is great for those cruising as a family and on a tighter budget.

Although Royal Caribbean does have more to do on their private island, MSC’s private island is still amazing. The beach truly is wonderful, and it is a great port to enjoy your day.

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Final Thoughts on Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises

Well there it is, Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises.

Comparing Royal Caribbean and MSC is easy because they share many similarities. Both major cruise lines are family-friendly, have amazing attractions, and are designed to be fun cruises.

When choosing which cruise line is best for you, it really comes down to your budget and what you enjoy most on your cruise vacation. Both cruise lines have large fan bases and get a lot of repeat cruisers!

In this post, I shared everything you need to know about cruising with Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.

Have you cruised with Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises, or are you planning to? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy cruising!


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