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Spotlight on MSC Cruises

Why MSC cruises?

The Mediterranean is a dreamy cruising ground, offering not only sun and sand but incredible history and culture in the European cities which grace its shores. MSC Cruises, a division of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, showcases this beautiful sea with a local knowledge and a melting pot of crew, passengers and languages spoken onboard.

Italian style underpins everything the line does, and the simple, sophisticated ships are the perfect way to see the Mediterranean and beyond. An MSC cruise can take you to ancient Roman archaeological sites, impossibly sophisticated seaside cities, charming Greek towns, castles and ruins, sophisticated shopping arcades, amazing dining scenes and much, much more. With some lines, the ship is the highlight of the cruise- for MSC, the destination is what makes it.

MSC appeals to many cruisers- here are some of the things which set them apart:

  • The multicultural nature of their passenger base means you can mix with cruisers from all over the world. Cruising can be considered a little insular, and a line like MSC helps you to break away from that.
  • Families are welcome onboard MSC ships, and they make it easy and inexpensive to bring the little ones. Kids sharing a cabin with their parents are FREE up to the age of 18, paying only port charges!
  • They are the experts in the Mediterranean- however, they also offer cruises in North America and worldwide.
  • The vessels have a very traditional nautical appearance. Many passengers appreciate "ships looking like ships!"
  • The food leans towards typical Italian fare- so if you enjoy good bread, pizza and pasta, you will find some of the best on this line.



The ships
MSC has one of the most modern large fleets in the world, with no ship older than 14 years- and most much newer. The Lirica class are the smallest and oldest of the fleet, the Musica class is the middle ground and the Fantasia class offers the line's newest and biggest ships. Currently, the MSC Preziosa is the biggest and splashiest vessel with a range of new and exciting facilities.

Simple and elegant across the board, MSC's ships offer the usual range of facilities and lean a little more towards the traditional way of doing things, with assigned seating and dining times and a dress code for the evening. Marble, brass and wood are used in clean designs to create a nautical atmosphere with Italian flair.



The activities and entertainment
MSC ships all have an array of sports facilities to keep you fit, including pools, courts, gyms and more. Classes, parties, games and competitions are organised to fill up the days at sea, and the Kids Club will take care of the little ones aged 3-12, with a Teens Club for those aged 13-17. Italian language classes are popular- and why not take the chance to learn when you are immersed in it?

Of course, the evenings bring theatre performances and these are set apart by their European flavour- from acrobatics to opera, they range widely and are always a spectacle. Beyond the main theatre, you will find plenty of bars and a casino where you can imagine yourself in Monaco for the evening.

Evening activities are a specialty of MSC Cruises- if drinks and a show are not your idea of fun, you'll be spoilt for other options. The Officers and Gentlemen Gala Evening brings the ballroom glamour, the MSC Factor offers some friendly competition, and there are many other organised events including White Parties, LIttle Italy nights, dance classes, karaoke, 70s-themed parties and music quizzes.



Bits and pieces
Gratuities are automatically added to your shipboard account at a set rate, which you can adjust by visiting Guest Relations. Beverages and shore excursions are not included in the cruise fare. The dress code is "resort casual" for the evenings, which means no jeans, t-shirts or shirts in the dining venues- and there are occasional formal evenings which require a higher standard of dress.

Announcements are made in up to five languages, always including English and Italian, and often French, Spanish and German. English is more dominant on Caribbean itineraries, but when in Europe you should be prepared for possible communication issues.



Be prepared
There are a few aspects of MSC which may not appeal to non-European cruisers. Service is a little more laidback than that which can be found on North America-based cruise lines, in the typical nonchalant European fashion- a cultural difference which puts some passengers off.

The multi-language announcements can be an annoyance, so keep that in mind when booking. The dining choices are also a lot more limited than many comparable lines, and the requirement to dress for dinner is also something to consider- it all depends on personal taste.

Overall, we would definitely recommend you try MSC, especially of you are planning a Mediterranean cruise. Just be a little open-minded to the cultural differences and European way of doing things- you might love it!



The food
Italian influence is never more evident than in food. Dinner is a multi-course event, with dishes from Italy and around the Mediterranean with some more American-style options. There is also a vegetarian menu and some healthy-choice options. Highlights of dining on MSC include the freshly baked bread, the buffet pizza and nightly Italian specialties du jour. Passengers choose one of the two dinner seatings in the main dining rooms, or use the Lido Buffet for a casual option.

Specialty restaurants vary from ship to ship across the line, but may include Tex Mex, sushi, fine-dining style Italian, custom pizzas and more.



The cruises
MSC's list of destinations is big and getting bigger! The Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, South Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and South America are all on the list- and you can embark on a Grand Voyage world cruise for an extended getaway with a range of ports.

See MSC cruise itineraries and specials on Cruise Sale Finder, and check out the reviews by past passengers too. Start dreaming of a European cruise getaway in 2015!

Written By: Sarah Glover, Content Editor of Cruise Sale Finder

I have enjoyed visiting as much of the world as possible over the years. Europe and the Mediterranean are personal favourites, but there is so much to see very close to our little Australasian corner of the globe- one of my top travel experiences was snorkeling with tropical fish and turtles in New Caledonia! Cruising is a fantastic way to see it all, and we hope to make booking a cruise easier for both first-timers and old salts. From ship tips to destination news and views, we will keep you up-to-date. Happy cruising!

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