Confession: I usually don’t think much of cruises or cruise culture, even so-called cultural cruises. If you’re like me – and if you follow this site, chances are you at least travel like me – you think of cruises as overpriced and tacky, with little kids running around everywhere ruining the peace and quiet of your vacation.
It’s a shame this reputation exists, because cruises, as a concept, are wonderful. You can see a lot of different places while retiring to the same comfortable room every night. Cruise directors function as customer service and travel agents, providing a lot of information and excursions for each city and port.
If you want a break from train-hopping and the backpacker lifestyle, and want to explore a few different cities but also relax, a cruise sounds like a great way to go.
So what if I told you there was a company doing things differently? Providing affordable, cultural cruises geared towards a different kind of traveler?
Enter MSC Cruises, whose ship the MSC Magnifica I got to tour in great detail. While doing so, I gained an understanding of the MSC philosophy, which I think will appeal to you.
What sets MSC Cruises apart?
MSC Cruises Want to Provide International, Multi Cultural Cruises
I have previously been on cruise lines where it’s mostly been 80% Americans with a few Northern Europeans thrown in for good measure.
This was not at all the demographic on the MSC Magnifica when I boarded.
Couples, friends and families from all over the world mingled together. They had clearly already become friends during their few days on the ship. I heard approximately 15 different languages while walking through the ship.
MSC is very proud of their international clientele and culture. They encourage adults and kids on board to learn about other cultures and countries not only through shore excursions, but through each other.
With MSC, you can immerse yourself both in the beautiful new places you visit, as well as your life on board, for a truly great, rounded travel experience.
You Can Expect Much Better Entertainment and Dining Than Your Usual Cruise Line
If you want comfort food buffets and magicians, you can still find those diversions on MSC Cruise ships. However, if you’re looking for something a little finer, the ships have a much wider variety of entertainment to offer you.
For starters, MSC has contracted Cirque du Soleil to create original shows for their ships at sea! I personally find Cirque shows jaw-droppingly incredible, so this is a very salient point for me.
The new shows will be called SYMA – Sail Beyond Imagination, and VARELIA – Love in Full Colour. They will be performed on MSC Cruises’ new flagship property the MSC Bellissima. The new ship which will launch this March in 2019.
As far as dining experiences go, internationally renowned chefs including Roy Yamaguchi and Ramon Freixa have opened up fine dining restaurants inside the MSC fleet – Asian Market Kitchen and Ocean Cay, respectively. Food is a big part of culture after all, so immersive, cultural cruises like MSC focus on international cuisine as well.
However, that doesn’t mean people looking for more casual fare and hangouts will be disappointed. You can easily find sports bars, game rooms, and bowling alleys on the MSC fleet. This way, you get to wind down without dressing up.
Their Cruises are Very Affordable
Cruises can be incredibly expensive, but MSC provides plenty of affordable options for 5 and 7-day cruise getaways.
Make sure you go with a friend or significant other, as solo travelers (as in most places) will end up paying the usual single supplement. But if two of you board an MSC Caribbean cruise, you can find a seven-day getaway starting from $700-$800!
You’re paying the minimum cost of a roundtrip flight for both your comfortable accommodation and luxury transportation.
On other MSC cruise ships and other vacations, you can find prices as low as $300-$400! Apparently, cruising doesn’t have to be expensive at all.
MSC Cruises Are Geared Towards All Ages
Each area of an MSC cruise ship has its own decor and ambiance, as well as activities. Meaning, it’s a great choice for a multi-generational family trip. You can all create memories together while spending enough time apart to avoid getting on each other’s nerves and doing things you like instead.
The MSC Magnifica, for example, provides plenty of activities for kids while at the same time being quite enjoyable for adults without kids. Children can spend time at the Aqua Park and Water Slide, hang out in the 4D cinema, or try out the Virtual World gaming on board.
I was going to include zip lining (yes, there’s zip lining on board) for kids, but who am I kidding: everyone wants to go zip lining.
For parents with younger children who want to spend some quality time together on the cruise, MSC provides a baby care service to help take care of your infant. In its effort to support a multicultural learning experience for your child, the ship also has MSC baby time. Here, your infant can interact with kids from around the world.
Teens get their own dance and sports clubs on board, as well as separate dinners they can attend with new friends on board.
Adults also have their own “play” areas, including an authentic Balinese spa on MSC Magnifica.
You will also find vinotherapy treatment rooms on board the MSC ships. That’s right, vinotherapy – a new way of using wine to relax you.
If you want to stay fit – and after you read about the incredible food on board, trust me, you will – check out the high-tech fitness rooms with giant windows overlooking the ocean. The equipment in these rooms is Olympic-athlete level. Definitely enough to work off that Caribbean cuisine and beer belly.
MSC Cruises is Still a Family-Owned Business
MSC retains its identity as a private, family-owned company. In fact, much of the decor you will see within the ships has been picked out by the family members themselves. They remain heavily involved with the cruise line.
It’s not often you find a cruise line that hasn’t gone corporate. Patronizing a family-owned business aboard the seas is a refreshing change of pace.
This style of ownership is also quite obvious in the little touches throughout the MSC Magnifica. This includes the attention paid to individualized experiences and customer service on board.
That being said, MSC has expanded its fleet relatively recently. The cruise line has some of the most modern, younger ships in the world. So expect a clean, updated design and high-tech accommodations on board the fleet’s ships.
In fact, the new MSC Bellissima will have the first ever digital cruise assistant: a voice-enabled AI device located in every cabin named Zoe.
Where does MSC go?
Honestly, pretty much everywhere. MSC has been at the forefront of the industry in Europe, South America, and Asia for years. They already have plenty of established routes around the world.
Now, they are quickly expanding their itineraries and cruise destinations around North America as well.
You can take Baltic cruises, make your way around China, go cruising in Scandinavia, sail the Middle East and India, explore the ports of Brazil, or soak up the sun in the Caribbean.
If you have a decent amount of time available and want to do something really adventurous, try the MSC Grand Cruises. They make their way across the Atlantic.
Discover history and UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cartagena, Athens, or Goa, just to name a few. You can relax on the beaches of Cuba (yes, there are US cruises to Cuba!), enjoy vibrant Tokyo city life, admire the views of the Amalfi Coast, or explore remote, beautiful Greenland.
No matter what kind of travel destination and experience you are looking for, MSC Cruises has got you covered.
Have you had a great cruise experience? Comment below!