15 Things You Need To Know Before Cruising With MSC

MSC Cruise - Things to Know Before You Cruise

Sharing is caring!

Stepping onto my first MSC cruise, I was prepared for a different cruise experience. I found myself in a state of uncertainty, unsure if I would fall in love with the experience or be left disappointed.

Since MSC Cruises is an Italian cruise line, the onboard experience is somewhat different from that of most mainstream cruise lines. These differences lead to a lot of uncertainty around MSC, which causes many cruisers to wonder if they would enjoy the experience.

While MSC Cruises may be different, the experience is undeniably enjoyable. However, there are some key aspects that every cruiser should be aware of before embarking on their first MSC cruise.

In this post, I share everything you should know before you take your first MSC cruise. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned cruise, this will help you know what to expect on an MSC cruise.

MSC Seascape Infinity Pool

15 Things To Know Before Cruising With MSC

1. The Food on MSC Is Different from Other Cruise Lines

MSC Seascape main dining room dinner

If you’ve been on contemporary mainstream cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, or Carnival, you’ll find MSC’s dining experience different. In particular, MSC cruise ships have fewer casual dining options.

Onboard MSC, you can eat in the buffet, main dining room, or specialty restaurants. Unlike other mainstream cruise lines, there’s no pool-side grill, cafe or included casual fast food options disbursed around the cruise ship.

MSC cruise pizza

Throughout the day, the main place to eat is in the buffet. However, the buffet onboard MSC is good and plentiful, serving a variety of classical American dishes, Italian dishes, fresh fruit, and other healthy options. There’s also MSC’s famous pizza, which lives up to the hype.

Furthermore, the buffet has a kids-only section, serving children’s food options at a lower counter height.

MSC cruise kids buffet

Before we went on our MSC Seascape cruise, we heard some mixed reviews and criticisms of the food onboard. However, in our experience, the food was quite tasty, and there was always a wide variety of choices.

2. MSC Safety Drill

MSC Seascape

MSC’s safety drill is done a little differently from most other cruise lines. This is important to know as it’s one of the things you’ll need to do on embarkation day.

Nowadays, most cruise lines have a virtual or e-muster drill, which includes watching a safety video on a cell phone via the cruise line app, as well as a check in at the muster station. It’s fast and efficient.

However, this is just one thing that is different about boarding day on an MSC cruise.

On MSC cruises, you must watch the safety video on your stateroom TV, then use the in cabin phone and call #881 to confirm this is done. You’ll also need to check-in at your muster station and have your cruise card scanned.

This is definately something I wish I knew before I went on my first MSC cruise. It only takes an extra few minutes, but it’s important to be aware.

3. Elevators

MSC Cruises has a different elevator system than traditional cruise lines. Instead of pressing a button to go up or down, you press which floor you’d like to go to on a screen outside of the elevator, and then it will assign you an elevator.

Although this elevator system differs, I have seen a similar elevator system on Carnival Venezia and the brand-new Sun Princess.

The elevators are different and takes some time to get used to. While sometimes we felt like we waited longer than on other cruise ships, it is fast and efficient when the cruise ship is quiet. The best part is that an accurate waiting time is indicated.

4. Bring a White Outfit

MSC Seascape White Party

When you cruise with MSC, packing a white outfit is important. During your MSC cruise, you’ll have a white party, during which everyone will dress in white. The white night begins at dinner and ends with a deck party!

One of the most memorable aspects of our MSC cruise was the white night event. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people had packed their best white outfits, ready to join in the fun. 

The fact that every cruise passenger participated, from the youngest to the oldest, created a sense of unity and made the white night even more special.

Our cruise was filled with a variety of themed parties, from a tropical party to the glow party. Each one was a unique experience, offering a different atmosphere and style of entertainment. 

These themed parties are a must-attend and a fun time for everyone.

Related: 25 Gorgeous White Dresses to Wear on a Cruise

5. Guests Speak Many Different Languages

MSC cruises

When you sail with MSC, be prepared for guests to speak different languages. Compared to American cruise lines, MSC passengers come from all over the world.

During our cruise, I heard people speaking English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Portugese, Mandarin and more. Although you may hear many unfamiliar languages, this created a unique cruising experience.

At times, you may be in an elevator, and you’ll hear 5 different languages being spoken. For the most part, cruise passengers understand English. However, it’s not the first language for many people on an MSC cruise.

Rest assured, the crew onboard MSC is fluent in English, ensuring smooth and effortless communication throughout your cruise vacation.

Related: Why We’re Excited for the New MSC World America

6. Status Match

The MSC Status Match program allows cruise passengers to receive comparable or even better loyalty benefits than they would receive on other cruise lines. 

To receive the benefits, you must join the MSC Voyagers Club. Once approved, you will receive an immediate 5% discount on any future MSC cruises, onboard discounts for spa services, photo packages, Wi-Fi, complimentary gifts, and other valuable savings.

If you have a high status on another cruise line, you’ll definitely want to apply for the MSC Voyagers Club. They offer some great benefits that are worth taking advantage of.

7. MSC Cruise Ship Hot Tubs Aren’t Actually Hot

MSC cruise hot tub

Something that is very different on an MSC cruise is the hot tubs. To our surprise, the hot tubs onboard were not hot!

Instead, the hot tubs were lukewarm at best, which wasn’t exactly our cup of tea. When checking the various hot tubs around the cruise ship, we came to find out that this was the norm, unless you were at the spa.

If you like a very warm or hot traditional jacuzzi style hot tub, you might be dissapointed.

8. Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve Private Island

MSC Ocean Cay

If you’re taking a Caribbean cruise with MSC, there’s a good chance that your itinerary will include Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Ocean Cay is MSC’s private island, and it is a perfect place for an amazing beach day.

When you visit Ocean Cay, you’ll have free beach access and lounge chairs, and your drink package works on land. Furthermore, if you’ve purchased the ship’s Wi-Fi, you will get Wi-Fi on the island.

The private island consists of eight different beach areas, each offering a unique ambiance. You’ll also find several bars, a charming lighthouse, and an included dining when you where you can eat a delicious barbecue buffet lunch.

Related: 10 Mistakes to Avoid on Cruise Private Islands

9. MSC For Me Wristband

MSC cruises wristband

In addition to a cruise card, MSC has an optional wristband wearable device available at an extra charge. The MSC For Me waterproof wearable device has some similarities to the Princess Medallion or The Band on Virgin Voyages.

With the MSC Wristband, you can get into your room and get drinks instead of using your cruise card. However, you do still need to use your cruise card to get on and off the cruise ship in ports of call.

The MSC For Me Wristband is available for guests to purchase onboard most newer MSC cruises. However, The MSC Wristband is provided free of charge for Yacht Club and Aurea members.

10. Bars Serve Espresso and Specialty Coffee

MSC offers a unique feature that you won’t find on other cruise ships – specialty coffee and espresso served at all the bars. As a coffee lover, I really enjoyed this feature.

Rather than having to go to a cafe in the atrium or promenade (like on other cruise ships), on MSC you can order a coffee at any of the bars. This was super convenient, as I never had to wait in long lines to get my morning coffee.

11. Certain Activities Cost Extra

MSC Robotron

It’s important to note that certain activities have an additional charge onboard MSC cruise ships. Attractions like Robotron and the Formula 1 Racing Simulator have an extra charge.

However, there are also many fun activities that are free or included. For example, on our recent MSC Seascape cruise, the Pirates Cove Aqua Park and 4 water slides were included.

MSC cruise Pirates Cove

You’ll also find a kid’s club, sports court and other included activities and entertainment options that the whole family can enjoy.

12. There Won’t Be Many Americans on European Sailings

Since MSC is a European cruise line, they are much more popular in Europe than they are in North America. So, if you’re thinking of booking an MSC cruise in Europe, something to know is that Americans won’t make up the majority of passengers.

Typically, MSC sailings in Europe attract more Europeans than Americans. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can be a different cruise experience than other American cruise lines.

For example, announcements are likely to be in several languages, the entertainment may rely on music and visuals, so as to appeal to the multiple languages of the guests.

While MSC is growing rapidly in the USA and attracting more American and Canadian passengers for Caribbean and other North American sailings, MSC’s European cruises will feel a bit different.

Related: 10 Things I Wish I knew Before Going on my Mediterranean Cruise

13. Different Booking Process

MSC cruise balcony cabin Fantastica

It’s important to know that MSC has a different booking process and offers three different types of cruise experiences at different price points.

Bella is your introductory package, Fantastica is the mid-tier package, which includes choosing your own dining time and a few perks, and Aurea includes spa access and other perks.

Before booking your cruise, it’s important to consider which package aligns with your budget and vacation style. We, for instance, found the Fantastica package to be a perfect fit for our needs and thoroughly enjoyed our cruise.

14. MSC Yacht Club

MSC Seascape Top 19

MSC Yacht Club is for those who want the ultimate cruise experience. You’ll have access to private dining venues, an exclusive sun deck, and 24-hour butler service when you’re a Yacht Club member.

You’ll also get priority check-in and check-out, the premium drinks package, the premium Wi-Fi package, and a dedicated concierge.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to experience the MSC Yacht Club on our recent MSC cruise, we were captivated by this exclusive retreat. In fact, we’ve heard from many cruisers who have tried MSC Yacht Club and say they could never go back!

It’s a testament to the fact that the MSC Yacht Club offers a transformative experience that can truly enhance your cruise vacation.

15. The Pizza Lives Up to the Hype

MSC cruise pizza

Since MSC Cruises is an Italian cruise line, they are known for having some of the best cruise pizza at sea. As a pizza lover, I have to admit that MSC really does have a great pizza!

The pizza they served had large slices, was freshly made, and they offered a variety of tasty flavors. When you sail with MSC, you have to give their pizza a try.

Bonus: Download The MSC App

If you have an upcoming MSC cruise, remember to download the MSC App!

On the MSC App, you can view your daily activities and dining times, book excursions, dining reservations, and spa appointments, and access your spa treatments. It’s best to download the app in advance, as the Wi-Fi may not be great at the cruise port.

Video: Our First MSC Cruise Wasn’t What We Expected. Here’s Why

Related & Popular Posts:

Final Thoughts On Things To Know About Cruising With MSC

MSC Cruises is one of my favorite cruise lines as it has a great variety of activities and a fun nightlife, and they offer a unique cruising experience.

As someone who has taken over 35 cruises, cruising with MSC was a better than I expected. The price was competitive and the experience was in line with what we would expect from a contemporary cruise line.

Although MSC may not be for everyone, it is worth trying. You never know, you may just love it!

Have you taken an MSC Cruise, or would you consider it? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


If you enjoy this post please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please feel free to share on Facebook or Pinterest (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.