In just 10 years, MSC Cruises has gone from operating one ship in North America -- mostly targeted to Europeans sailing in the Caribbean -- to a line sailing five ships in and around the Caribbean, including several marketed to North Americans departing from U.S. homeports.
If you don't know a lot about MSC Cruises and you're wondering if the line is the right fit for you, Cruise Critic is highlighting nine reasons why you just might love the line.
1. Pools (Plural!)
If you've ever found yourself bemoaning the too-small pool on your cruise ship, you're going to love MSC's ships. Seaside, Divina and Meraviglia all have three to four pools, giving you plenty of choices. With several being 6-feet deep, you can even go for a swim since you won't have to compete with teens splashing around. On all three ships, you'll also find one pool that's reserved for passengers aged 16 and older, another pool just for passengers staying in the suites-only Yacht Club and a third with a retractable roof so a little bit of rain never has to stop your pool time.
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2. 4D Cinema and Formula One Simulator
On MSC's newest ships, you'll find an amusement park and a game room vibe that's too fun to miss. Among the many diversions are a 4D cinema and Formula One race car simulator that will get the heart pumping. In the former, you'll be strapped into a bank of chairs that swivel and turn as you swoosh down a roller coaster or face off with laser guns against zombies or ghosts. In the latter, you'll climb into the simulator, shaped like a life-size race car, and attempt to race your way around a digital track. It's a lot more difficult than it looks, and in both cases you might not want to do it right after eating.
If you like a little more splash with your recreation, you'll want to check out the top-deck fun on MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia, both of which have three or four bendy waterslides. On Seaside, we highly recommend the slideboarding option, while on Meraviglia we suggest giving the swirly Champagne Glass a go. On Divina, there's just one twisty slide that loops and turns its way from Decks 16 to 15.
4. Chocolate and Gelato
Who doesn't love an after-dinner chocolate or a scoop (or three!) of gelato on a warm Caribbean day? All MSC Cruises ships sailing out of North American homeports feature an extra-fee chocolate shop and a gelateria. On MSC Seaside, you'll find Venchi Cioccogelateria, as well as Venchi Gelateria & Creperie. Both offer gelato, but you'll also find chocolate by the pound, Italian hot chocolate and milkshakes -- plus a mouthwatering chocolate fountain wall -- at the Cioccogelateria. The gelateria serves crepes, milkshakes, waffles and, of course, gelato. MSC Divina, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia also have spots onboard to grab chocolate and gelato.
5. Yacht Club
Suite cruisers will love MSC's Yacht Club, which can be found on all MSC cruise ships sailing out of the United States (except MSC Armonia). This exclusive suite enclave comes with a number of perks and is one of the most widely praised suite experiences in the cruise industry. Inclusions feature priority boarding, all drinks, butler service and access to an exclusive pool, restaurant and lounge.
6. Swarovski Crystals
MSC ships have the most beautiful atrium staircases in the world. Bedazzled with thousands of Swarovski crystals encased in glass, the staircases twinkle and sparkle. (Everyone has their picture taken on these stairs.) But it's not just the stairs that impress. MSC's ships are beautiful and sophisticated, with lots of glass, shiny metal and sculptures you can't help but admire. If you like a ship that's refined, sleek and glitzy without overwhelming the senses, you'll love MSC's ships, especially Divina, Seaside and Meraviglia.
7. International Crowd
MSC is one of the most international cruise lines you'll ever sail. While the ships sailing out of U.S. ports carry a lot of North Americans (more than 50 percent of passengers), there will also be hundreds of Italians and Germans, as well as passengers from Spain, Portugal, the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Scandinavia, France and other countries. If you're willing to make the effort, you can meet people from all over the world. (If you're into trivia, make sure to find some new friends to make a multinational team the United Nations would be proud of.)
If you like to dance, MSC is definitely the cruise line for you. With multiple dance classes every day, from the cha-cha and waltz to merengue and country line dancing, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up a few steps from all those dances you've ever wanted to learn. Already know them all? Keep your eyes on the daily schedule. Each night there's a different themed dance event. Think Latin, Country, Rock 'n' Roll, '70s and more. There's also a silent disco one night per sailing, as well as DJ-spun music daily.
9. Cirque du Soleil at Sea
Cruisers taking to the high seas aboard MSC Meraviglia can revel in the spectacle that is Cirque du Soleil at Sea. The ship features two 40-minute shows, designed specifically for MSC Cruises and staged in a specially designed lounge with a circular stage and tiered seating. As with all Cirque shows, the productions on Meraviglia feature high-flying acrobatics and jaw-dropping feats of strength and balance.