MSC Cruises Ultimate Guide -
Find out everything about MSC!

About MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises - the family-owned, Swiss-based company with an Italian heritage. The company showcases fine pan-European flair, with a high level of service and hospitality from a friendly, multilingual crew. It has evolved quickly as the "new kid on the block". Of all the major cruise lines, MSC Cruises holds the reputation of being the cleanest.

MSC is the fourth-largest cruise company, sailing to more than 200 destinations and a target of expanding its fleet to 25 ships by 2027.

To date, it is still a privately-owned company with a long Italian maritime heritage, find 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 a name that is often uttered in the same breath as some of the most popular destinations in the world. From the sunny beaches of Southern Africa & Caribbean to the awe-inspiring historical monuments in the Mediterranean, MSC Cruises offers an unforgettable cruising experience for everyone.

What Makes MSC Cruises Different?

Inspired by their European heritage, MSC Cruises brings together travellers from more than 180 different nationalities to explore new places, discover new cultures and connect with new people.

From the Caribbean Islands to the Mediterranean, the Fjords in Northern Europe to South Africa and Asia, MSC sails to more than 200 destinations around the world - with great experiences waiting to be discovered in each port and city along the way.

The fleet of 19 cruise ships has some of the most innovative and modern vessels. Designed with a distinct European elegance and featuring details such as Swarovski crystal staircases, European marble finishes and Mediterranean-style promenades.

Expect to find enriching excursions and great onboard activities; refined international dining experiences; authentic Balinese spas; immersive kids and family programs; a variety of stylish and comfortable accommodation and award-winning entertainment.

The cherry on the top is the passion and dedication that the owner, Gianluigi Aponte and his family has had for the brand. Until only recently, Madame Rafaela Aponte, his wife was closely involved in designing every MSC Cruise ship since the launch of MSC Cruises in 1989.

Mister Aponte's son, Diego Aponte is MSC Shipping's President, Diego's sister, Alexa Aponte-Vago is the Group's CFO. Her husband Pierfrancesco Vago is the Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises -Vago is also the Global Chairman for CLIA (Cruise Line Association) since the 22nd of January 2021.

When cruising or working on an MSC Cruises' ship or in the office, you feel like you are part of a family.

MSC Cruises has been at the forefront of health and safety throughout its existence. However, since the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, MSC Cruises has implemented a range of health and safety protocols that allowed the premium cruise line to sail since October 2020 almost without interruption, focusing on an itinerary in the Mediterranean.

MSC Yacht Club

MSC Yacht Club is an exclusive ship-within-a-ship, located on the upper foredecks of the vessel with the finest views offering the highest standards of privacy, luxury and personal service.

Clients 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

Enjoy the Yacht Club all while still being able to enjoy the ship's "normal" amenities, entertainment, and services throughout the ship.

MSC Yacht Club is available onboard the Meraviglia-Plus Class (MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa), Meraviglia Class (MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima), Seaside-Evo Class (MSC Seashore), Seaside Class (MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview), and Fantasia Class (MSC Divina, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia).

Guests can relax and enjoy the elegant staterooms of the MSC Yacht Club that include 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 been investing in land-based private islands to accommodate their customers.

MSC Cruises has 2 private Islands, one in the Caribbean and one in Mozambique. 

  • Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Bahamas - first used in 2019
  • Portuguese Island, Mozambique - first used in 2006

A third destination is sometimes referred as an Island even if it is an actual Penninusula is Pomene in Mozambique, the second most popular destination for South African. 

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 only available on the latest classes of ships - Seaside, Meraviglia and Meraviglia Plus.

Through the MSC for Me app, which can be downloaded on the guests' phones, passengers can organize and plan their trip, from reserving seats at the restaurant and theatre to viewing the daily program; book restaurant, spa treatments and excursions; navigate the ship through the use of MSC's smart & interactive maps.

The technology also comes with a bracelet that allows passengers to pay for purchases, as well as open their cabins with it.


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®, has created the Cirque du Soleil at Sea show. Together they have created eight original shows that will be performed on the 4 Meraviglia Class ships - MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa.

Six nights per week, the artists from Cirque du Soleil perform two unique shows in a purpose-built 994 sq. m. Carousel Lounge. You can add dinner or cocktails to your experience while watching 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

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