You may not have heard of MSC Cruises, but they’re planning on that changing with the launch of their first purpose-built cruise ship for the North American cruise market, aggressive pricing strategy and national media campaigns. With 13 ships including the recently launched MSC Meraviglia in May 2017, MSC Cruises is the largest privately owned cruise line in the world. They have their eyes on growth within North America and the rest of the world with an impressive 10 additional new ships scheduled for delivery by 2026.
MSC Cruises from North America
The MSC Divina has been sailing year round from Miami since 2013, after being re-positioned from Europe and has been well received by cruisers. In December 2017, MSC Cruises will launch the MSC Seaside. As the first ship designed specifically for North America, MSC Seaside will home port year-round in Miami, Florida and offer weekly alternating Eastern & Western Caribbean itineraries. The design of the the MSC Seaside is a departure from most modern cruise ships. In fact, her aft section resembles more of a South Beach condo and will fit perfectly in her new home. MSC has taken elements from other cruise lines and made then even better on the MSC Seaside. Grand exterior promenades, dual ziplines, expansive private sundeck area for suite guests and a multitude of dining options are just some of features guests will experience onboard. At the same time, MSC Cruises will have a newly refurbished terminal at Port Miami to be able to handle the increased capacity of MSC Seaside year-round and MSC Divina (during winter season). MSC Cruises has also announced plans to bring MSC Meraviglia to Miami in 2019.
Preview of MSC Seaside
Six Things to Know about MSC Cruises
1. Loyalty Status Match Program
Every cruise line offers a loyalty program where you receive varying level of benefits depending on the number of cruises you have taken. How would you like to receive benefits onboard MSC ships including a 5% discount before your very first cruise?
MSC Cruises has a program called Status Match. The free program allows anyone, even if they’ve never cruised with MSC before, to receive a matched level of benefits based on other cruise line or hotel loyalty programs they belong to. The process is initiated by completing a simple form on MSC Cruises Website where you would register for their MSC Voyagers Club by providing your pertinent contact information and proof of other loyalty program membership. It is important to note that this matching process can only be done once per account, so make sure you match to the loyalty program where you have the highest status. Varying cruise line and hotel loyalty programs will be weighted differently and your starting level in MSC Voyagers Club will be based on your other program’s current level.
Here are examples of status matching to Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program.
Download Full list of MSC Voyagers Club Benefits
Crown & Anchor Gold Level = MSC Classic
- 5% cruise discount
- Pre-cruise newsletter
- MSC Voyagers Club Card
- MSC Voyagers Club Luggage Tags
- Welcome Back Cocktail
- Onboard Special Offers
Crown & Anchor Platinum Level = MSC Silver
- All benefits of MSC Classic
- Milstone Reward
- Complimentary basket of fresh fruit
Crown & Anchor Emerald Level = MSC Gold
- All benefits of MSC Silver
- Complimentary one-hour thermal area session
- MSC Voyagers Club complimentary gift
- Priority disembarkation for tendered ports
- Complimentary MSC Voyagers Club photo
- Complimentary birthday cake
Crown & Anchor Diamond Level & Above = MSC Black
- All benefits of MSC Gold
- Priority Boarding
- Complimentary Specialty Restaurant Dinner for two
- Complimentary Spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit
- Priority disembarkation at end of cruise
- Courtesy bathrobe & slippers
- Complimentary dance class
- MSC Voyagers Club Black Card party
- MSC Voyagers Club Chocolate Ship
- Late stateroom check-out as disembarkation
*Exact Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor status match levels and benefits subject to change by MSC Cruises. For other cruise line and hotel matching benefits, check with MSC Voyagers Club.
2. Pay For Inclusive Experiences
Many cruise lines are now offering bundled or almost all-inclusive programs. Typically, it’s an all-or-nothing offer, so the ability to “opt-out” to get a lower price is not always an option. Additionally, these offers do not have any affect on your accommodation or dining selections. MSC Cruises offers a tiered pricing structure where you pay for the “Experience” that suits you. Each Experience has varying inclusions and certain ones are tied to the selection of specific room accommodations.
Highlights of the Four Experiences and their inclusions.
Download Full Comparison of Experiences
- A la carte amenities
- Lowest priced stateroom – Interior, Partial Ocean View, Ocean View & Balcony
- Can request either early (5:30-7:30 pm) or late (7:45-9:45 pm) dining
- 12 free drink vouchers per person (soda, wine, beer, non-premium cocktails, coffee)
(Drink package will be discontinued on March 25, 2019)
- Preferred stateroom – Ideally located Interior, Ocean View, Super Family, Balcony & Suite
- Can request either early (5:30-7:30 pm) or late (7:45-9:45 pm) dining
- Free room service (6:00 am-11:00 pm) After-hours fee: $3.95
- Preferred stateroom – Interior, Ocean View, Balcony & Suite
- Wellness and fitness-themed shore excursions: 6-nigth cruise (1), 7-night cruise (2), 8+-night cruise (3)
- Complete wellness assessment
- One-on-one health check-up with MSC medical staff
- One complimentary fitness class daily (excluding embarkation and disembarkation days)
- Body analyzer with Technogym® Fitness instructor
- Wellness welcome kit
- Technogym® Wellness Key to track your performance and fitness
- MSC Wellness Experience App to track your performance
- Traditional or My Choice Dining*
- Free daily laundry service for gym gear provided in welcome kit
- Unlimited consumption of mineral water at the bars, restaurants, buffet and stateroom
- Complimentary sport drink daily
- One complimentary souvenir photo
- All-inclusive unlimited drinks (soda, wine, beer, liqueurs, cocktails, coffee)
- Premium stateroom – Balcony & Suite
- My Choice Dining*
- Spa package with Vitamin Bar cocktail, two massages per stateroom from the spa menu (up to 1 hour), tanning booth, private wellness consultation.
- Unlimited access to MSC Aurea Spa Thermal Area (adults only)
- Private Sundeck
*My Choice Dining with freely selectable time and priority access to complimentary restaurants
Pricing will vary for each experience. The lowest prices are typically in the Bella Experience, however, there are certain promotions where it may be a better deal to book under the Fantastica Experience.
3. MSC Yacht Club
MSC Cruises is certainly not the first cruise line to offer an exclusive ship-within-a-ship area featuring a higher level of services and amenities, however, compared to other cruise lines, the MSC Yacht Club VIP accommodations are the epitome of luxury and priced well below similar offerings.
The amount of space and amenities of the MSC Yacht Club vary by ship, but all offer the same inclusions.
All MSC Yacht Club Accommodations Feature:
- Lavishly appointed suites, exclusive 24-hour butler service and a dedicated concierge
- All-inclusive meals served at your preferred time in the private restaurant and unlimited drinks in all MSC Yacht Club areas, all bars and restaurants throughout the ship, and from your mini-bar. Exclusive access to The One Sun Deck and Top Sail Lounge are just some of the other privileges. So, if you’re looking for exclusivity and privacy in a world of choice, the MSC Yacht Club is the ultimate solution.
- Free Unlimited drinks in the MSC Yacht Club, your mini-bar and all onboard bars and restaurants (according to the drink selection available in the different venues)
- Private access to the MSC Aurea Spa
- Free private dining at dedicated restaurant
- Free private lounge, pool and bar
4. Kids Sail Free Year-Round
In addition to the competitive fares MSC Cruises has been offering, they also offer a Kids Sail Free program on select sailings year-round. At a time where many cruise lines are charging substantial prices for kids occupying 3rd and 4th berths, you can save a lot of money on bringing the kids 11 and under. While not available on every cruise, we’ve found that even some holiday and peak-travel periods had Kids Sail Free offered. They even offer free kids 12-17 during off-peak times of the year.
Even with kids being free, it wouldn’t be worth it if they are bored and have nothing to do. That’s not going to be a problem on MSC ships. They’ve partnered with Chicco and Lego to provide fun onboard programs and their newest ships are full of exciting activities like themed kids & teen clubs, water parks, 4D cinema, zip line and more.
In order to qualify to cruise for free, kids must sail as 3rd/4th guests when sharing a stateroom with 2 full-fare paying adults.
5. European Hospitality
An MSC cruise may take you to the Bahamas, Caribbean or other international destination, but, you’ll always feel the Mediterranean elegance and charm of the ship and the dedicated multilingual crew. The European presence extends to the authentic cuisine and attention to detail in the preparation and service and some of the best pizza you’ll find at sea.
6. Stunning Cruise Ships
No matter which MSC ship you sail on, you’ll quickly take notice of the quality of the design and construction, rich materials and comfortable and elegant spaces. You’ll find real marble and wood used all over the ship. An absolute showstopper and ideal spot for a formal photo are the Swarovski crystal staircases found on MSC Divina, Fantasia, Preziosa, Splendida and the new MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside.