MSC Cruises Ultimate Guide -
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About MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is a family-owned, Swiss-based company with deep Italian maritime heritage. Known for its fine pan-European flair, MSC Cruises offers exceptional service and hospitality from a friendly, multilingual crew. Rapidly evolving in the cruise industry, MSC Cruises has quickly gained a reputation as the cleanest among major cruise lines.

Ranked as the fourth-largest cruise company globally, MSC Cruises sails to over 200 destinations. The company is ambitiously expanding its fleet, aiming to reach 25 ships by 2027.

Despite its growth, MSC Cruises remains privately owned, maintaining its rich Italian maritime traditions. Learn more about the history of MSC Cruises.

Interesting Facts about MSC Cruises

  • World's largest privately-owned cruise line
  • A fleet of 19 ships
  • Over 800 different itineraries
  • Discounts for MSC Voyager Club Members
  • Multiple kids' clubs designed for children of different ages
  • Elegant Italian Design
  • Ocean Cay Marine Reserve is MSC Cruises' private island in the Caribbean
  • Portuguese Island and Pomene in Mozambique are MSC Cruises private destinations
  • MSC for Me with ZOE: virtual cruise assistant
  • Cirque du Soleil theatre performances on selected MSC Cruises ships

MSC Cruises Destinations

MSC Cruises is synonymous with some of the world's most popular destinations. Whether you're drawn to the sunny beaches of Southern Africa and the Caribbean or the awe-inspiring historical monuments of the Mediterranean, MSC Cruises offers an unforgettable experience for every traveller.

What Makes MSC Cruises Different?

Inspired by their European heritage, MSC Cruises unites travellers from over 180 nationalities to explore new places, discover new cultures, and connect with new people.

Global Destinations
MSC Cruises offers an extensive range of destinations, from the Caribbean Islands and the Mediterranean to the Fjords of Northern Europe, South Africa, and Asia. With over 200 destinations worldwide, every port and city promises unique experiences.

Innovative and Modern Fleet
MSC Cruises boasts a fleet of 19 innovative and modern vessels designed with distinct European elegance. These ships feature luxurious details such as Swarovski crystal staircases, European marble finishes, and Mediterranean-style promenades.

Enriching Onboard Experiences
Guests can enjoy enriching excursions and various onboard activities, including refined international dining experiences, authentic Balinese spas, immersive kids and family programs, stylish and comfortable accommodations, and award-winning entertainment.

Passionate Ownership
The passion and dedication of the Aponte family set MSC Cruises apart. Gianluigi Aponte, the founder, and his family have been closely involved in the company's growth since its inception in 1989. Madame Rafaela Aponte, Gianluigi’s wife, personally designed every MSC Cruise ship until recently. Their son, Diego Aponte, is the President of MSC Shipping, while their daughter, Alexa Aponte-Vago, serves as the Group's CFO. Alexa's husband, Pierfrancesco Vago, is the Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and the Global Chairman for CLIA (Cruise Line Association) since January 22, 2021.

Health and Safety Leadership
MSC Cruises has always prioritized health and safety. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSC Cruises has implemented comprehensive health and safety protocols, allowing them to continue sailing safely since October 2020, particularly in the Mediterranean.

Experience the difference of MSC Cruises, where you'll feel like part of the family, whether you're cruising or working on board.

MSC Yacht Club

MSC Yacht Club offers an exclusive "ship-within-a-ship" experience located on the upper foredecks of the vessel for the finest views. It provides the highest standards of privacy, luxury, and personal service.

Guests staying in the MSC Yacht Club will enjoy:

  • A private entrance with a dedicated key card
  • 24/7 Butler & Concierge Service
  • Private venues and elegant amenities
  • Superior suite accommodation
  • A complete all-inclusive experience
  • Gourmet dining in a private restaurant

Exclusive Amenities and Services
While enjoying the MSC Yacht Club, guests can still access the ship's amenities, entertainment, and services. This allows for a unique blend of exclusivity and the full range of cruise experiences.

Available on Multiple Classes
MSC Yacht Club is available on the following ship classes:

  • Meraviglia-Plus Class: MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa
  • Meraviglia Class: MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima
  • Seaside-Evo Class: MSC Seashore
  • Seaside Class: MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview
  • Fantasia Class: MSC Divina, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia

Luxurious Accommodations
Guests can relax in elegant staterooms, including Royal Suites, Executive & Family Suites, Deluxe Suites, and Interior Suites (not available on Fantasia Class ships)..

MSC Cruises Private Islands

Since the 1990s, cruise lines have invested in land-based private islands to enhance customers' experiences. MSC Cruises owns two private islands and is the third most popular destination in Mozambique.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Bahamas
First used in 2019, this pristine island in the Caribbean offers an idyllic getaway with crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches.

Portuguese Island, Mozambique
This private island has been welcoming guests since 2006. It features stunning natural beauty and a relaxing atmosphere.

Pomene, Mozambique
Often referred to as an island, Pomene is actually a peninsula. It is the second most popular destination for South African travellers, known for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse marine life.

Ocean Cay, MSC Marine Reserve
Ocean Cay, MSC Marine Reserve

Ocean Cay, MSC Marine Reserve is MSC Cruises' private island, just over 100km from Miami.

The pristine piece of land in the Bimini chain of islands in the Western Bahamas opened on December 5, 2019. The 38 hectares island is surrounded by 165 sq km of marine reserve.

Portuguese Island, Mozambique
Portuguese Island, Mozambique

A mere 34 kilometres across Maputo Bay, east from the mainland of Mozambique, lies the 6km long, uninhabited island of Ilha dos Portuguêses, known as Portuguese Island in English.

MSC Cruises Fleet

The MSC Cruises fleet is one of the newest in the world. With 19 ships ranging in size from 2,520 passengers to 6,334 passengers, MSC Cruises offers something for everyone. Operating in some of the most popular cruise destinations around the world - including the Mediterranean, South America and South Africa - MSC Cruises provides a true Mediterranean experience aboard its ships.

Portuguese Island, MSC Sinfonia
Lirica Class Ships

The Lirica Class is MSC Cruises' first-generation ships which entered service between 2003 and 2005.

The MSC Lirica, MSC Opera, MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia all went through a complete upgrade between 2014 and 2015.

The program was called the Renaissance Program and not only increased the size of each ship but also added dining spaces and additional family facilities.

Whilst these ships are the smallest in the MSC Cruises fleet, they enable MSC to reach some emerging destinations with smaller port sizes.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 65,500
  • No. of passengers: +- 2,000
  • No. of cabins: +- 1,000
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 5
 The Ships include: MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia and MSC Opera
MSC Orchestra arriving in Fort Lauderdale, Caribbean 1110x300
Musica Class

MSC Cruises' second generation of ships.

Built between 2006 and 2010, this class includes MSC Musica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra and MSC Magnifica.

The Musica Class is a class of mid-sized ships, whose main destinations are South Africa, Northern Europe, Southern Caribbean, South America and smaller ports in the Mediterranean.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 95,000
  • No. of passengers: +- 2,550
  • No. of cabins: +- 1,275
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 17

Musica Class ships: MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra, MSC Poesia and MS Magnifica

MSC Preziosa on maiden call in Lisbon, Portugal Mediterranean 1110x300
Fantasia Class Ships

MSC Cruises third-generation ships.

The ships began entering service between 2008 and 2013.

The MSC Preziosa, MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and MSC Divina were the first to introduce the MSC Yacht Club concept of a ship-within-a-ship.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 139,000
  • No. of passengers: between +- 3,270 and 3,500
  • No. of cabins: between +- 1,637 and 1,751
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 45
  • Features Yacht Club

Fantasia Class ships: MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa

MSC Meraviglia calling in Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Meraviglia Class

MSC Meraviglia, launched in June 2017, was the first ship of the class followed by the MSC Bellissima, launched in March 2019.

The lovers of spectacular entertainment can enjoy two amazing Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, in a purpose-built Carousel Lounge venue.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 171,598
  • No. of passengers: +- 4,488
  • No. of cabins: +- 2,244
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 52
  • Features Yacht Club

Meraviglia Class ships: MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellissima

MSC Seaside in Siracusa
Seaside Class

The Seaside Class consists of 2 ships, MSC Seaside (launched in Dec 2017) and MSC Seaview (launched in June 2018).

The Seaside will be based in Miami, USA year-round and the Seaview in the Mediterranean.

The Seaside Class is just a little smaller than the Meraviglia Class ships. It is inspired by a Miami Beach condo concept and aims at bringing passengers closer to the sea.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 153,516
  • No. of passengers: +- 4,132
  • No. of cabins: between +- 2,066
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 54
  • Features Yacht Club
MSC Grandiosa
Meraviglia Plus Class

MSC Grandiosa was the first ship of the Meraviglia Plus Class to launch in November 2019. The MSC Virtuosa was set to launch in September 2020 but has been delayed to early 2021. The newest Plus Class will be the Euribia scheduled to launch in 2023.

The Meraviglia Plus Class has the longest LED Dome at sea over the centre promenade, literally mind-blowing. Both ships produce two shows of Cirque du Soleil at Sea, in a purpose-built theatre.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 181,000
  • No. of passengers: +- 4,827
  • No. of cabins: +- 2,421
  • No. of accessibility cabins: +- 60
  • Features Yacht Club
MSC Seashores first arrival in Miami
Seaside EVO

The Evo Class is built around the concept of sustainability and the environment, by implementing a range of environmental impact-reducing technology such as the latest advanced wastewater treatment, LED lighting, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and more.

The ship will also have some new features: a restaurant exclusive for Aurea guests; a new water park with VR; a double deck-show lounge; and a bigger indoor pool.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 171,598
  • Nbr of passengers: +- 4,488
  • Nbr of cabins: +- 2,244
  • Nbr of accessibility cabins: +- 52
  • Features Yacht Club

The Seaside EVO ships: MSC Seashore and MSC Seascape (dec 2022)

MSC World Europa Genoa, Italy
MSC World Class

The World-Class will consist of four new ships, each of them over 200,000 tons. Powered by liquified natural gas and diesel fuel, they will be MSC Cruises' biggest ships.

  • Gross Tonnage: +- 200,00
  • Nbr of passengers: +- 5,400
  • Nbr of cabins: +- 2,630
  • Nbr of accessibility cabins: TBA
  • Features Yacht Club

The first ship to launch will be the MSC World Europe scheduled in December 2022.

Technology & Partnership on MSC Cruises

MSC for Me

MSC for Me is an innovative digital service available on the latest classes of MSC ships: Seaside, Meraviglia, and Meraviglia Plus.

Comprehensive Trip Planning
The MSC for Me app, downloadable on guests' phones, allows passengers to organize and plan their trip efficiently. Features include reserving seats at restaurants and theatres, viewing the daily program, booking restaurant reservations, spa treatments, and excursions, and navigating the ship with MSC's smart and interactive maps.

Convenient Technology
In addition to the app, passengers receive a bracelet that enables them to pay for purchases and unlock their cabins seamlessly.


ZOE is a virtual personal cruise assistant. Similar to Alexa or Google Assistant, it assists passengers in answering most of the common questions they have.

The device responds to seven languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Mandarin), however, it still battles to understand some accents, but it is constantly learning and improving.

Zoe was named after the granddaughter of the founder, Mr Aponte.

Cirque du Soleil at Sea

MSC Cruises' unique partnership with Cirque du Soleil® brings the exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows to life. There are eight original shows performed on the four Meraviglia Class ships: MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa, and MSC Virtuosa.

Spectacular Performances
Cirque du Soleil artists perform two unique shows six nights a week in the purpose-built 994 sq. m. Carousel Lounge. Enhance your experience by adding dinner or cocktails while enjoying the show.


MSC has also partnered with Chicco for babies up to 3 years old:

Free baby essential equipment: ie bottle warmers, strollers, backpacks (for baby items), high chairs, cribs. You will need to ask for those and register at the kids club, it is on a first come first serve basis.

MSC BabyCare Service: parents can leave their babies for a fixed time with trained caretakers.

MSC BabyTime: some dedicated playtime between parents and their babies


Discover MSC Cruise Packages: Enhance Your Voyage with Pre-Booked Perks

Set sail on an MSC Cruise and elevate your vacation with our exclusive range of pre-bookable packages designed to cater to all your needs. From sipping your favourite drinks under the sun to staying connected with loved ones, our MSC packages provide everything you need for a perfect cruise experience. Book these packages through Hupla before your cruise to ensure a seamless and luxurious journey. Here’s a breakdown of the popular MSC Cruise packages available:

1. Drinks Packages

  • Easy Package: Enjoy unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including house wines, draft beers, selected spirits, and soft drinks.
  • Premium Package: Upgrade your experience with a wider variety of premium beverages, including speciality coffees, premium cocktails, and more.
  • Non-Alcoholic Package: Ideal for teetotalers, this package offers unlimited soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, and mineral water.

2. Wi-Fi Packages

  • Surfer Package: Stay connected with social media, chat apps, and email with our basic internet package.
  • Streamer Package: This package offers more bandwidth for those needing it. It includes access to streaming services, news websites, and the ability to send photos and videos.

3. Dining Packages

  • Dine & Delight Package: Savor the flavours of speciality restaurants across the MSC fleet with a pre-booked dining package that offers a variety of culinary experiences.
  • Chef’s Table: Treat yourself to an exclusive gourmet experience with a multi-course meal from MSC’s finest chefs.

4. Spa & Wellness Packages

  • Thermal Area Package: Relax and rejuvenate with unlimited access to the MSC Aurea Spa Thermal Area, featuring saunas, steam rooms, and a relaxation room.
  • Massage Packages: Pre-book massages and treatments to pamper yourself while cruising the high seas.

5. Excursions Packages

  • Explorer Package: Pre-plan your adventures ashore with a package tailored to your interests, offering the best tours and excursions in each port of call.

6. Special Celebrations Packages

  • Romantic Packages: Celebrate anniversaries or honeymoons with special decor, fine dining, and other romantic touches.
  • Birthday Packages: Make your or your loved one’s birthday special with cake, decorations, and a festive atmosphere.

Booking with Hupla

Easily book these MSC packages through Hupla before your cruise to lock in these perks and add a touch of luxury to your voyage. By booking early, you ensure your cruise experience is customized to your preferences and needs. Visit Hupla’s MSC Packages to explore detailed package options and secure your extras today!

Enhance your MSC Cruises experience with carefully curated packages designed for any taste and preference, ensuring your time at sea is nothing short of spectacular.

Frequently Asked Questions

MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company. MSC Cruises was established as its own entity in 2006 with a fleet that now totals 19 ships. However, the cruise ship business started years before - back in 1988 when MSC bought the Monterey and in 1989 MSC purchased StarLauro Cruises and added the Achille Lauro to the fleet. In 1995, StarLauro cruises named changed to Mediterranean Shipping Cruises.

Related article: MSC Cruises' history

Each MSC Cruises destination has specific vaccination requirements. 

For the Mediterranean, UAE, Caribbean and Nothern Europe, guests must be fully vaccinated. 

For South African, guests do not need to be vaccinated to travel. 

Passport or National Identity card are subject to the itinerary that you will be