MSC Cruises: The Complete Guide

From weekend cruises in the Caribbean to four-month-long global adventures, this Swiss cruise line does it all.
Published
Profile photo of Carissa Rawson
Written by Carissa Rawson
Profile photo of Meghan Coyle
Edited by Meghan Coyle
Assistant Assigning Editor
Fact Checked

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

MORE LIKE THISTravel

Cruising is a huge industry, so it makes sense that the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) — which started out shipping cargo — got in on the venture in 1988 with the purchase of its first cruise ship. Since then, the company has been steadily growing, adding new ships and destinations to its thriving cruise line.

Although it’s headquartered in Switzerland, you’ll find MSC cruises all over the world, including throughout the United States. Let’s take a look at MSC’s cruises, where they sail and what to expect when you’re aboard.

About MSC cruises

Here’s a quick overview of some of MSC’s key features.

  • Package types: There are three levels of experience to choose from on MSC. Bella is the least expensive, while Fantastica allows you to get free in-room breakfast and select your room type. Aurea is MSC’s top-tier package and includes access to exclusive amenities, as well as additional discounts and dining privileges. 

  • Cabin types: On MSC ships you’ll find the standard cruise ship cabins, including interior, ocean view, veranda and various types of suites. 

  • Main U.S. routes: MSC has only a handful of departure ports from within the U.S. Most of its routes depart from Miami to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.   

  • Points currency and loyalty program: The loyalty program of MSC is called the Voyager’s Club. Points are earned for the cruises you take and the money you spend while on board. 

MSC cruise destinations

You can find MSC cruises all over the globe, including the Caribbean, Canada, New England, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Northern Europe, South Africa, South America and Asia. There are also worldwide cruises that sail to several regions around the globe.

MSC's worldwide cruises come in as the longest trips, with itineraries lasting as many as 127 nights. Meanwhile, the cruise line's shortest options include weekend trips to the Bahamas sailing for just two nights.

» Learn more: The best cruise lines

MSC cruise prices

The reviews of MSC Cruises will likely mention the price of your trip, which is often cheaper than comparable trips on other popular cruise lines. Of course, the total cost will vary based on the trip duration, time of year and what kind of room you select. The least expensive options you’ll find are on short Mediterranean cruises, which can cost as little as $119 per person.

Prices are also affected by the dates that you’re traveling. A three-night cruise to the Bahamas can cost as little as $149 per person, but that same trip can cost up to $349 per person during periods of high demand.

As you’d expect, the most expensive cruises on MSC are the longest. For example, the 127-night World Cruise costs $21,929 per person.

What is the best MSC ship?

There are a total of 23 ships in MSC’s fleet. According to U.S. News, the best MSC ship is the MSC Bellissima. Launched in 2019, the ship boasts a full-sized bowling alley and multiple pools, along with an array of restaurants, a spa and live entertainment. The ranking was calculated using a mix of user reviews and health ratings.

What is the newest MSC ship?

The MSC World Europa, MSC’s newest ship, officially debuted at the end of 2022 in Qatar. This ship features more than 2,600 cabins, 33 restaurants and six swimming pools.

What’s included in an MSC cruise

MSC’s cruise packages are on par with other mid-tier cruise lines. No matter what package you purchase, all food and entertainment is included, as is access to the main parts of the ship. This includes pools, the buffet restaurant and a nightly seated dinner.

If you purchase a higher-end package, you’ll be able to enjoy more amenities. The Fantastica experience, for example, includes free room service delivery for breakfast. The top-tier Aurea package includes complimentary room service for all meals.

Neither Wi-Fi nor specialty drinks are included as part of the base price, but they can be purchased separately. The drink package has a range of options, including non-alcoholic drinks such as soda and different types of alcohol.

MSC loyalty program: Voyager’s Club

Voyager’s Club is the loyalty program for frequent MSC cruise passengers. There are four levels in the program, and each has its own benefits.

Voyagers Club levels

The Voyager Clubs levels are Classic, Silver, Gold and Diamond.

Classic

  • How to earn: Classic membership is earned by going on at least one MSC cruise or having a confirmed booking on an upcoming cruise. This tier is for members who have between 1 and 2,199 points.

  • Best benefits: 5% discount on future cruises, discounts on packages.

Silver

  • How to earn: Earn 2,200 to 4,299 points. 

  • Best benefits: $50 onboard credit per person on cruises booked at least nine months before departure, double points for cruises booked more than 12 months in advance.

Gold

  • How to earn: Earn 4,300 to 9,999 points.

  • Best benefits: One hour of complimentary thermal area access, priority disembarkation, complimentary photos. 

Diamond

  • How to earn: Earn 10,000+ points.

  • Best benefits: Complimentary tasting dinner, one free dance lesson, complimentary slippers and bathrobe, priority embarkation and disembarkation.

How to earn Voyager Club points

There are two ways to earn Voyager Club points. First, you’ll earn a set amount of points for taking a cruise — the specific amount will depend on the length of the cruise and the experience level you choose. Second, you’ll earn points for the activities you pre-purchase and for any onboard expenses that you incur.

Frequently asked questions

Wi-Fi is not included in MSC’s basic fare. There are different packages available to those who are sailing which can be purchased before you travel or during your cruise. MSC doesn’t publish its Wi-Fi package pricing online, but for example, you can expect to pay around $270 for a two-device upgraded Wi-Fi package on a seven-day cruise with MSC Seascape.

MSC cruises are not entirely inclusive, though they do provide a lot with your base package. This includes your cabin, food, live entertainment, port stops and coffee, tea and water. They don’t include specialty drinks such as soda or alcohol, nor do they include Wi-Fi or any port excursions you’d like to go on.

MSC Cruises reviews will let you know that MSC allows passengers to add on a drink package to their cruise. The price will vary depending on your actual cruise, as well as the type of package that you choose. There are five types of packages available: Easy, Easy Plus, Premium Extra, Alcohol-free and Minors.

Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $88 per day for any drink packages that you purchase.

Whether or not you’ll need a COVID vaccine or COVID test while sailing on MSC cruise lines will depend on where you’re going. For cruises leaving from the United States, you don’t need either. However, you will need to provide other personal information, such as your name, address and date of birth.

(Top photo courtesy of MSC)


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for Cruises from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
4.2
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5x-2x

Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Points
See more cards for cruises
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.