The MSC Orchestra will be back in South Africa for the 2022/2023 season after having spent the 2021/2022 season cruising Portuguese Island, in Mozambique from her homeport in Durban. 

Both are large luxury cruise ships and seem to be similar. What are the differences between the two and which ship offers a better cruise experience?

MSC Orchestra and MSC Musica are very similar in build and capacity but offer varying amenities and cruise options. MSC Musica offers more onboard entertainment and lounges, while MSC Orchestra has more dining options.

The rest of this article will compare and contrast the two sister MSC Cruises ships and detail the different amenities and experiences.

I will also discuss their similarities and explain the experience of travelling on each of the two ships.

Related: MSC Cruises | The Full Guide


The MSC Musica

Built and launched in 2006, the MSC Musica has cruised all over the Atlantic, from Italy to Buenos Aires and, most recently, in South Africa.

The Musica was MSC Cruises’ first vessel in their line of eco-friendly cruise ships, designed to use less waste and better preserve the environment.

MSC Musica was also the line's first large ship to make the trip from Italy to South Africa, where MSC Cruises has established a presence.

She is known for the see-through piano suspended on a glass floor over a pool of water, which greets travellers as they enter the main atrium.


Here is a video tour of the MSC Musica, including the cabins:


The MSC Orchestra

MSC Orchestra was built only a year after the Musica and is considered her sister ship (along with their third and fourth sister ships, MSC Magnifica and MSC Poesia).

She has followed MSC Musica across the ocean to Buenos Aires and South America and on the European and South African routes.

MSC Orchestra provides an equally pleasing cruise experience, offering more restaurants and bars than the MSC Musica and a large variety of live entertainment.

She too gives passengers the option of an internet cafe and an on-deck shuffleboard court.


Here is a video tour of the MSC Orchestra:


The Similarities Between the Ships

Both the MSC Musica and the MSC Orchestra were built for fashion and extravagance.

They have the same build and capacity: both have a gross tonnage of 92.409 tons, hold up to 2,550 passengers, and boast 1,275 guest cabins.

The cruise ships offer very similar cruise experiences and neither are currently sailing (February 2021), due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although these ships are highly comparable in build and design, they have different amenities and opportunities for travellers. Whether you are travelling alone, as a couple or with children, there are options on both of these two cruise ships for you.


Differences Between the MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra


Rooms and Cabins

Both the MSC Musica and the MSC Orchestra offer the standard set of suites and cabins provided by MSC Cruises. There are cabins with balcony access and full ocean view, partial ocean view, and complete interior cabins. Each offers either a double bed or two single beds.

The Super Family suite holds up to four passengers for families and is available with a balcony or ocean view. Both ships also have seventeen cabins with special accommodations available for passengers who may need them.

MSC Orchestra Deck Plan (click here)


Total Cabins per Type - per Ship - per Guest

Both ships have:
  • 275 Inside
  • 104 Ocean view - partially obstructed
  • 69 Ocean view
  • 809 Balcony
  • 18 Suites
The split below shows the number of guests per cabin type:
Type NO.
MSC Musica MSC Orchestra










Ocean view*







Ocean view




















Suite 3 18 18

Ocean view*: What is an Obstructed View Cabin


Special Needs Guests Split Per Cabin Type:

Both ships have:
  • 12 Inside
  • 0 Ocean view - partially obstructed
  • 2 Ocean view
  • 3 Balcony
  • 0 Suites
Type NO.
MSC Musica MSC Orchestra  







Outside 3 2 2  
Balcony 2 3 3  


Restaurants and Bars

All cruise ships offer various restaurants and bars for their patrons, and the MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra are no exception. Both ships have the same number of bars and lounges.

However, food is the area where the Orchestra outshines the Musica, offering a greater variety of dining options.

MSC Musica has bars and lounges throughout the sixteen decks, two main restaurants, one speciality restaurant and one buffet-style dining area for a more casual eating experience.

Each restaurant and lounge is themed for the location on the ship.

LOleandro Restaurant MSC Musica similar on MSC.OrchestraMSC Musica main restaurant L'Oleandro

Here is the list of restaurants on MSC Musica:

  • L’Oleandro Restaurant, one of the 2 main dining restaurants
  • Kaito Sushi Bar, Japanese fare (for an added fee)
  • Le Maxim’s, the second main dining area
  • Gli Archi, Italian buffet-style restaurant

Here is the list of bars and lounges on MSC Musica:

  • L’Enoteca Wine Bar
  • Crystal Lounge
  • Q32 Disco
  • Blue Marlin Bar
  • Laguna Bar
  • Blue Velvet
  • The Golden Bar
  • The Diamond Bar
  • Sanremo Casino Bar
  • Bar Della Cascata
  • Il Tucano Lounge
  • Aurea SPA Bar
  • Havana Club - Cigar Room and Whisky Bar

MSC Orchestra is known for her restaurant options, especially Shanghai, the Asian dining experience.

There are also thirteen bars and lounges of varying sizes throughout the ship so that passengers can find refreshments at any time.


Here is the list of restaurants on MSC Orchestra:

  • Shanghai, an Asian restaurant offering Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes (extra fee)
  • La Piazzetta, an Italian pizzeria
  • L'Ibiscus, upper main restaurant
  • Villa Borghese, lower main restaurant
  • 4 Seasons, a casual buffet restaurant

Here is the list of bars and lounges on MSC Orchestra:

  • The Savannah Bar
  •  Barracuda Bar
  • L’Incontro Bar
  • La Cubana Cigar Room
  • The Amber Bar
  • La Cantinella Wine Bar
  • The Purple Bar
  • The Shaker Lounge
  • R32 Disco
  • El Sombrero Pool Bar
  • Zaffiro Bar
  • Palm Beach Casino Bar
  • Aurea SPA Bar


Entertainment and Games

Both the MSC Musica and the MSC Orchestra offer various kinds of entertainment. The MSC Orchestra boasts a total of three pool areas (one for children) and seven whirlpools, where the MSC Musica also has three pool areas, again one for children, but only has four whirlpools.

Both the MSC Musica ad MSC Orchestra have a shopping area, a video arcade and a mini-golf course on deck.

Game Arcades on the MSC Cruises -  MSC Musica same on MSC Orchestra

For MSC Musica:

  • Two pool areas: La Spiaggia and Copacabana
  • San Remo Casino
  • Q32 Disco and dance floor
  • Teatro La Scala (Theatre for live events and entertainment)
  • Art Gallery
  • Shopping Area
  • Library
  • Card Room
  • Mini Golf
  • Video Arcade
  •  Internet Cafe


For MSC Orchestra:

  • Two swimming pools: Cala Blanca and Acapulco
  • Covent Garden Theatre
  • Palm Beach Casino
  • Card Room
  • Internet Cafe
  • Photo Gallery
  • Shuffleboard
  • Library
  • Poolside Cinema
  • R32 Disco and dance floor


Fitness and Sport Facilities

Even on vacation, some want to have access to fitness facilities and equipment. MSC Cruises offers these to all its passengers.

Both cruise ships are equipped with full fitness centres and outdoor jogging tracks. The MSC Musica also has a yoga and aerobics centre.


MSC Musica offers the following fitness facilities:

  • Aerobics and Yoga
  • Fitness Centre
  • Outdoor Jogging Tracks
  • Tennis Court, which also doubles up as basketball and volleyball courts
  • Two Pools


MSC Orchestra offers the following fitness facilities:

  • Two Pools
  • Outdoor Jogging Track
  • Tennis Court, which also doubles up as basketball and volleyball courts
  • Panoramic Gym and Fitness Centre


Rest and Self Care

In addition to the exercise, food, and games, there has to be time for relaxation and de-stressing. As well as the larger pool areas, MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra offer full spa experiences, massage studios, beauty salons, and libraries for reading and relaxation.

The MSC Musica has double the number of jacuzzis and steam rooms compared to the MSC Orchestra.

MSC Musica Aurea SPA | MSC Musica is MCS Orchestra sister ship

R&R on MSC Musica:

  • MSC Aurea Spa
  • Library
  • Hair Salon
  • Saunas
  • Jacuzzis
  • Steam Rooms


R&R on MSC Orchestra:

  • MSC Aurea Spa
  • Library
  • Solarium
  • Sauna
  • Jacuzzis
  • Steam Room


Family and Kids

Cruises are often touted as couples’ adventures but are great for the whole family.

On the MSC Musica, kids can play in the video arcade while the adults are in the casino.

On the MSC Orchestra, the pool areas will keep families playing all day. Both ships offer indoor playrooms, playgrounds and teen clubs. There are also various live performances in the theatres on both ships, geared towards the whole family!


Families and kid-friendly activities on MSC Musica:

  • Children Indoor Playroom
  • Adventure Playground
  • Teen Club
  • Mini Golf
  • Two Pools
  • Video Arcade


Families and kid-friendly activities on MSC Orchestra:

  • Jungle Adventure Playroom
  • Indoor Playground
  • Pool Areas
  • Teen Club
  • Mini Golf
  • Virtual Games


Final Thoughts

If you are considering a cruise to South Africa or on another Grand Voyage, both the MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra will provide an excellent cruise experience, with similar amenities and experiences.

However, there are some advantages to MSC Orchestra that the MSC Musica does not have and vice versa.

These could be the difference between your experiences on either of the two sister ships!


Originally published Feb 17, 2021, updated  03 May 2022