MSC Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Category: Mainstream

Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.


MSC Cruise Ships

3 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.

13 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. Value for Money. Families.

3 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.

28 Reviews


Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.

21 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

0 Reviews


Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews


Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

4 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

15 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.

17 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.

6 Reviews

Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
from 122 reviews


Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms


Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities


Shore Tours


Alternative Dining

User Reviews

122 User Reviews of MSC Ships
Transatlantic Crossing
Publication Date: December 16, 2008

We were very excited about a Holiday Cruise. We had previously had a wonderful transAtantic cruise on Holland America and it was delightful.

No so with MSC! It was a total disaster. Four bags were lost -- they were never delivered. We got 17 days of promises and lip from the very rude staff.

The food was bad. There was no compensation and the ship's stores were closed until the 21st of December.

We have found out since that our bags had arrived before the ship sailed and were never retrieved by MSC. At present, we have traced them to Funchal where they have been since the 18th of Dec. We arrived in Funchal on the 22nd and were told by MSC that they had checked for baggage and none had arrived. We are still trying to retrieve them, but with little hope.

MSC will not return our phone calls and we are left on our own to deal with this situation.

As a seasoned traveler, I feel MSC will never make it in the American market.

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TransAtlantic Crossing
Publication Date: December 16, 2008

My wife and I are 58 and 61 respectively. It was my wife's first cruise on my recommendation -- now she files a lawsuit against me (joke)!

I had been working on the MS Gripsholm of the Swedish-American-Line in 1972 and on the lovely SS Norway of NCL as a pastry chef for many years, and that's why I persuaded my wife to take a cruise, promising it would be an unforgettable experience. In fact, that it was.

Let's make this short. Everything I read in other passengers' reviews is true. This cruise was a disaster all the way through -- horrible food, irregular staff, most information provided wrong, etc.

The best thing was disembarking in Fort Lauderdale. We had the immigration officers onboard in St. Thomas already, so that we would have a quick disembarkment in Florida. We were told to leave the cabin at the latest at 7:00 am, and we were told to wait in the Covent Garden Theatre. Well, we waited for 4 hours! We had the blue colour code, meaning we were to be the first off the ship, but it still took another hour to get off

-- all the while fighting with other people who pushed to the front of the line in order to catch their planes. They had a different colour code though, due to get off much later than us, since we were staying over for another night in Miami.

Organization is not at all MSC's thing, and we actually will not recommend the MSC line even for our enemies. They're just a big rip off!!!

We collected mail addresses and will do a class action lawsuit. We paid a lot of money and did not get anything in return (poor cost-performance ratio)!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 3, 2008

There were enough things wrong on our 10 day cruise that my wife and I seriously doubt this company can stay in business for very long. I can't imagine what incentive would get us back on MSC.

The most glaring problem was the food. Cruise dining is supposed to be a grand experience. This was just a bland experience. I think they left the garlic, oregano and salt on the docks at home. The dining room food was small portioned and uninspired at best. The buffet was borderline inedible. The overall experience was like a poor cafeteria run by beginner cooks who used a lot of canned goods. There was none of the "regional Italian" experience we expected. And the wait staff didn't know much about what was on the menu, nor could they speak English well enough to support their efforts.

Communication was a problem with almost all the staff except the excursion and entertainment personnel. The higher up the chain of command you get, the less likely you are to get any sympathy or understanding. The purser (or "Bank" as it said over his window) refused to break any large

bills into smaller denominations, suggesting we try the casino. That worked until the casino caught on.

The ship was clean, but felt small. The rooms were compact, and the shops seemed almost an afterthought. Besides being small, the variety of goods was small and uninspired. The shop manager on our trip told us he couldn't wait to get off and would never work for the line again.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but no great thanks to the Lirica. The islands were beautiful, the ship was on time, the weather was lovely. But nobody we talked to or overheard was happy with the services on board.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 3, 2008

This was our 19th cruise and first on an MSC ship. Our travel agent told us how great their previous experience was on the Lirica 2 years ago. Well things have changed.

The major compalaint by our group of 52, plus probably at least a 100 more, was the dining time assignments. We were promised upon booking in April first seating and that was verified the day before sailing. Upon boarding we discovered we were all on late seating and were told by crew staff there was nothing they could do about it.

We believe what happened was MSC overbooked early seating big time knowing the passengers were older on this cruise and wanted early seating. In my opinion they led us on knowing if they told us up front only late seating was available, many would not sign up! Once on board we were trapped! Very poor!

The inexperienced crew did the best they could and the food was average at best! Found out all chefs but the head chef was new and from India, and the blandness of the food reflected this. Hard to find snacks or coffee available at

all times.

On the positive side, this was the cleanest ship we have sailed on. The entertainment was very good, dining room wait staff and cabin service was excellent and we heard "Time to Say Goodbye" sang on the PA system upon leaving each port -- very classy.

However because of MSC's obvious dishonesty to sign us up for early seating, this will be our last MSC cruise!

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Repositioning Cruise
Publication Date: November 15, 2008

In short if you are used to North American Cruise Lines, like Hollond America, Royal Carribean etc then you will be as disappointed as we were on a recent 18 day cruise on MSC Lirica.

All Food was poor, tasteless, over cooked and often cold or just warm.

Language barrier existed -- 5 languages used with Italian as the first. All announcements including the nightly entertainment announced in 5 langages.

When dining for lunch and breakfast often the other people at the table could not speak English.

If you didn't want to attend the formal dining night the only food available after 5 PM was room service which was very limited. The buffet dining room closed at 5 pm. The only place to get a coffee or tea in the evening was at the bar for $2.50.

For me the most important part of a cruise is the elegant dining for great food and it was not even close on the Lirica.

The best meal that I had was the morning that we returned to L.A. at Denny's which tasted soooo good compared with the previous 18 days.

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Transatlantic Crossing
Publication Date: November 8, 2008

We are a Brazilian couple, mid 50's, restaurant ownwers in Rio who love to work and sail.

This sail was with MSC Musica, a Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro) that began on November 8. It was our 26th cruise, and the first and the last with that company.

Since Rio is a bit far from Europe we normally travel for some days before to have a car looking for scenic drives to the ports we will sail. So this time we came from Munich and drove to Sirmione, Italy and then to San Casciano in Tuscany, for a 6 day trip through these beautifull parts of Italy. On the last day we drove from San Casciano to Venice, a 2.5 hour drive. We arrived on the day before the cruise in Mestre (beside Venice) at Novotel (EU$95). Mestre is less than 7 miles from Venice. We returned the car easily near the port at Piazza Roma.

Embarkation I never forgot a maxim I've heard -- "You never have a second chance to make a good first impression" and embarkation was CHAOS. We arrived 11:30hs and there were thousands of people waiting on huge

unorganized lines. Check-in was supposed to start at 13,00hs. Then we decided to leave our hand luggage in a locker at the pier and return to Venice to enjoy more of this marvelous city. We returned at 16:00hs and waited for another half hour in line, and we heard the stories of people fainting, fights, etc. This was the worst check-in we have ever seen. Every guest we've met was horrified with the poor service.

Ship and Cabin No one took us to our cabin. Our cabin was on the very last of the stern. It had a small and dirt balcony, average bathroom size, small and few wardrobes, outworn carpets and chairs, shampoo and soap -- but no conditioner or moisture cream. The robes available were good ones, a 20'LCD TV, and a mini bar. The decor was not bad.

The ship does not have a nice atrium. It is only 3 floors high, with a piano in the middle. The stores were little and unfriendly (no refunds, no exchanges). There were 2 pools (salt water) which were ok, and 4 dirty jacuzzis. There was a small area for mini-golf, a sports area, and excellent chairs with shades for your face, but again you had to wake up early in order to reserve your chair, especially when you travel with German people. There was a ridiculous gym academy, 6 treadmills for a 3600 passenger ship! There were 2 bicycles, but a big salon for paid activities, with a small audience for that. There was no sauna available unless you paid US$30 a day for use of the spa facility, sauna, turquish bath, and 2 small private jacuzzis.

The theater was ok, but not the shows! The restaurants were nice, with 2 differents decors. There were 2 specialty restuarants at US$30 cover charge pp. The one Chinese restaurant was always empty, and the other "Italian" restaurant is in the same area where the buffet is served at lunch! It too was always empty. Then there were some "nothing special lounges," and that's it. Not too many places to go or stay -- just a minimal library, minimal cigar room, 12 computers for internet, a small casino, and a very classic decoration, which you will forget on the day you disembark. The common areas were well maintained, though.

Service As I said, no one took us to our cabin on embarkation day. Then on the very first day, in the dining room, the waiter and his helper did not greet us, nor even a good evening! Then we decided to change tables, and a better waiter served us for the rest of the cruise. We've heard that more than 50 new waiters embarked with us in Venice, and the cruise director and other managers embarked the next day since the old ones had quit! The day we ate at the specialty restaurant we waited 3 hours to be served, and there were only 2 tables to be waited on! Our room steward needed 4 days to understand that we wanted ice in the room, more hangers, and more blankets. After that, though, she only forgot small details such as soaps, towels, etc. We had to call reception twice for help with her. The reception desk was ok depending upon who attended to you, ditto for a nice person to help you. I wrote a letter to Mr. Franco, a food and beverage manager, but got no answer, although the Maitre'd assured me he received the letter. So, this was the nature of the service.

Food and Beverage Would you believe they prohibited waiters to serve water at the tables in order to sell mineral water? I've never seen a petty attitude like that on any ship we've sailed. People were offended with this.

Breakfast was the same everyday -- bread, eggs, omelettes, cold cuts, fresh fruit (good), but no salmon. Milk and coffee needed to be served by waiters, and I heard people complaining about the milk quality.

Lunch in the main restaurant was better than in the buffet, with 3 salads plus tomatoes, lettuce and carrots. That's it, with sometimes some cucumber. Hamburgers and hot dogs, fries, and some hot stews. Everything was second class quality.

Dinner was better, although rarely beef or a steak. Everyday they said you can have salmon, chicken or beef. It made me laugh when we ordered beef, it was like a "carpaccio," it was so thin. No comment. The bread and butter was the best part of the meal. And, the desserts and ice creams were surprisingly good.

There was also a midnight buffet. We only attended the chocolate one. It was good. They also served tea with 2 kinds of sandwiches, and some sweets. There was no tea available during the day. Also, there was a charge for room service, and with only a small selection available too.

Ports These were okay. Bari, Tenerife, Malta, Funchal, Malaga, Recife, and Salvador. We did not take any excursions since we've been to these places before. The excursions were an average of US$130!

Shows and Entertainment There was no live orchestra, only recorded music! The same show was always playing, with 6 female dancers and 4 men for 45 minutes shows. The second sitting shows were at 23:30hs. There was no live band on the pool deck, although the weather was fine. There was plenty of live music onboard in the inside areas of the ship, including some good Brazilian musicians playing.

The entertainment was led by a transvestite looking boy, would you belive it?

Kids games were held in the pool! Some stretching classes and dancing lessons took place there too. There was also a huge screen showing only MSC ads, instead of films and shows. Also, you have to pay to watch movies on your cabin TV. During the 5 day transatlantic crossing we had nothing to watch on TV except MSC ads -- not even a music channel!

Disembarkation It was surprisingly good with no queues. We easily found our luggage. Disembarkation was on time too.

Conclusion If you have ever sailed with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America or Princess, or even Carnival, you will be extremely disappointed with MSC, although their prices are almost the same. Don't sail MSC. But, if you are a first timer and have no point of comparison, then you will probably not notice the points I've mentioned and could enjoy more of the MSC cruise experience than we did. For us, we'll never sail MSC again.

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Baltic Sea
Publication Date: August 16, 2008

The review which was entered by the person in 2005 hit the nail on the head.

The only improvement has been in the entertainment. In fact, many things may have even gotten worse in other aspects of the ship.

Table water is no longer available when dining. Water must be purchased by the bottle. No tea or coffee is available after the evening meals unless purchased. The tea and coffee in the self-service buffet restaurant is served from huge urns. All food areas are closed after meal service. The only drinks or ice creams, etc., available after this time must be purchased.

Unlike many other ships, this ship docked too far away from anything interesting. We would have to walk miles or use the transport laid on by MSC, which was also charged for.

We had visited most of the ports on previous occasions and never experienced this situation.

We have also experienced quite a few cruises, and I am pleased that this was not our first. We would have missed out on many of the other delightful cruises we have experienced before this one, because I would have been hesitant to try further

cruising had this been our first cruise. Indeed this was our 4th cruise with MSC, and we have not had this experience on their other vessels.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: July 25, 2008

We booked a cruise on MSC because we thought they would be like Costa. We are ballroom dancers and thought they might be close to Costa in that area.

The musical groups were even better than Costa, but the dance floors were not as nice as Costa. The Costa Fortuna/Magica had wood floors, while the Orchestra had tile floors that were a bit sticky. They did have a lot of dance space in 3 locations and provided a lot of opportunities to dance.

The food varied from okay to excellent. Service was excellent in the lounges, dining room and cabins. Their cafeteria food was as good as we ever had on a cruise. The key seems to be in ordering food you expect Europeans to be good at preparing.

Our room was right over a bandstand, but we did not hear the noise below us, nor any other noise.

The seas were pretty choppy the whole cruise, but the ship handled them very well.

MSC had excellent entertainers, but unfortunately the producers for their shows were not of the same caliber. They totally messed up the last show with horrid sound tracks. I

felt sorry for the two singers, trying to sing with such terrible background music/noise.

One negative was the "excellent" entertainment team. We found them annoying, arrogant and vulgar.

Embarkation and disembarkation were the fastest we have had in eight cruises. Ten minutes after walking into the terminal, we were on the ship. Luggage also got to our room the fastest of any cruise we have been on.

We would cruise MSC again, but Costa is still our first choice.

MSC had a lot of Indonesian employees on their wait staff. They were very efficient and courteous, but not as outgoing as the Filipinos on Costa and NCL -- but they were very efficient.

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Publication Date: May 18, 2008

This cruise was a mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime. First, the sublime: the balcony cabin (category 10) was beautiful, comfortable and roomy. The balcony was big enough to sit and enjoy the views, and the shower was big enough for my 6'2" 250 lb. husband (something rare on cruise ships). Beware, however, of the 'obstructed view' cabins. The obstruction is a lifeboat occupying the entire balcony, blocking not only the view, but the light, too. You're better off going down a category, and saving the money.

The ship is wonderfully decorated in an elegant art deco style and has several areas for activities -- including a lounge dedicated to smokers. There is an adequately equipped gym and a large theater which provides excellent entertainment.

That was the good stuff. Everything else ranged from merely annoying to outright awful.

The food -- of which there is plenty (there are 5 different times one can 'dine) is laden with MSG. If one is allergic to MSG (as I am), one is limited to a nightly dinner of pasta pomodoro (even the salads and the pizza are off limits). The daily programs state that

passengers should notify the Maitre d'Hotel about dietary limitations, but their solution is to tell you what you cannot eat (which is most of what is on offer in my case). The menus are wonderfully diverse, but the execution is hit or miss: mostly miss. The poultry and the fish were always dry and stringy, the meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) is like shoe leather, and the vegetables were sometimes mush and sometimes very good. The desserts were mostly very good.

The staff (when they can be located) are dictatorial, argumentative, and rude, except for the few servers from Thailand and Cambodia. The posted schedules are rarely accurate (except for meal times and the entertainment), and passengers are frequently huddled in masses awaiting their quide/leader/whatever to appear.

The internet café is extremely expensive, and the computers are almost always down (yet that's the only way to confirm flights, for example). The beauty shop offerings are about twice as expensive as the same services on land. I also learned -- to my horror -- that the beauty shop staff aren't even well trained. My once shoulder length hair is now 2" all over my head. When they did a touch-up, they used extremely strong peroxide and overlapped -- once I got home, my hair started coming out in handfuls right at the overlap. I now get frequent concerned questions about how my chemo is coming.

The excursions are highly overpriced and always late. The staff also lies about the rules of the various countries. For example, they told us that the only way to see St. Petersburg was to go on their planned excursions because Russia would not let us off the ship. This is a complete lie: the Russian government allows all passengers to visit Russia for the day as long as they a) spend the night on the ship and b) have a copy of the front page of their passport -- no visa required (in fact, you can't get a visa for one day -- I tried).

MSC offers a 'children cruise for free' gimmick, but even that is not worth this cruise from Hell!

My husband and I have been to Italy several times, and love it -- we were hoping that 'cruising Italian style' would be an extension of the pleasure we had on land. We couldn't be more disappointed.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: April 19, 2008

Italian cuisine is no guarantee of good food. MSC Poesia was a disappointment.

The Italian cruise ship company MSC hosts a Mediterranean gastronomic dining cruise featuring fine food and wine. Unfortunately the culinary experience will be less than expected, since the food comprises three-course cafeteria fare served as six dishes and costing twice as much. I will actually contend that I have eaten better dinners at roadside inns than the food turned out by the Italian cruise kitchen.

Tough meat, tasteless fish and unsavoury side dishes characterised my dining experience. We felt cheated. The cruise company has apparently put their "bean counters" to work applying the modern economic principle known as "profit maximization." Basically this means using the cheapest ingredients available and charging the highest possible price. The dessert was good, I admit. Italian ice cream is not easy to ruin, but this one treat was not enough to compensate for poor dinners throughout the entire week.

Breakfast and lunch were good, but strangely enough, the fare was identical day after day. The advantage of this, of course, is that the meals are predictable -- you know in advance what you are getting -- and the

dishes are placed in exactly the same place each day. The disadvantage is that the food becomes increasingly boring. Fortunately the cruise lasted only one week. If MSC Cruises had sent us on a two-week trip with second-rate food like this, I would have abandoned ship at the first available port of call.

Not one ill word about the service personnel on board. They were always smiling, helpful and service-minded. Frustration increased, of course, with each passing day and the guests' realization that the quality of the food very simply would never improve. Naturally one cannot expect the gastronomic quality of French cuisine on board an Italian boat, but again, this was really the bottom of the barrel. If you are tempted by a cruise in the Mediterranean, be my guest, but if you want to enjoy fine cuisine on the high seas -- forget it.

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