Fodor’s Expert Review
The first ship in the MSC Cruises Fantasia-class, MSC Fantasia debuted in 2008. Not only is she greater in length than the height of the Eiffel Tower, she was the largest cruise ship ever built for a European ship owner at the time of her introduction.Read More
MSC Cruises’ newest ships are also their largest and include the MSC Yachts Club—luxury suites with their own private library, lounge, swimming pool, restaurant, and sundeck. The spa’s well-being center has a thermal cave and therapy pool for relaxation. The children’s play area includes a swimming pool with waterslide. To test your driving skills, there are Formula 1 simulators. Unusual for a cruise ship, there is also a squash court. The extensive use of various colored marbles adds a luxurious quality to the traditionally styled public lounges and a hint of Italian style as well as art deco and art nouveau touches.
MSC Cruises has always been sensitive to environmental issues, and Fantasia-class ships are on the cutting edge ecologically. They are equipped with the most innovative technological systems to guarantee savings in energy and protection of the environment, such as the water-processing systems. MSC Divina has more cabins and a higher double-occupancy rate and a stunning infinity pool at the back of the ship.
More widely known as one of the world’s largest cargo shipping companies, MSC has operated cruises with an eclectic fleet since the late 1980s. When the line introduced two graceful, medium-size ships in 2003 and 2004, it ushered in an era of new shipbuilding that has seen the fleet grow faster than any other European cruise line. This line is growing into a major player in both Europe and the Caribbean.
MSC blankets the Mediterranean nearly year-round with a dizzying selection of cruise itineraries that allow a lot of time in ports of call and include few if any sea days. In summer months, several ships sail off to northern Europe to ply the Baltic. Itineraries planned for repositioning sailings visit some intriguing, off-the-beaten-track ports of call that other cruise lines bypass.
No glitz, no clutter—just elegant simplicity—is the standard of MSC’s seaworthy interior decor. Extensive use of marble, brass, and wood reflects the best of Italian styling and design; clean lines and bold colors set their modern sophisticated tone.
MSC adopts some activities that appeal to American passengers without abandoning those preferred by Europeans; however, regardless of the itinerary, be prepared for an Italian-influenced experience. Also expect to hear announcements in several languages.
- 13 passenger decks
- 3 specialty restaurants
- 1 dining room
- ice cream parlor
- 3 pools (1 indoor)
- children’s pool
- Fitness classes
- hot tubs
- steam room
- 13 bars
- dance club
- show room
- video game room
- Children’s programs
- Laundry service
- Internet terminal
- No-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
A whopping 80% of staterooms have an ocean view, and 95% of those have balconies. All accommodations are beautifully decorated and comfortable yet still somewhat smaller than comparable cabins on other lines. All are furnished with two twin beds that can be combined to create a king, a vanity-desk, TV, Ethernet connection for use with laptops, adequate closet and storage space, small refrigerator, and hair dryer.
Yacht Club Suites that have access to a private lounge with complimentary bar and a sundeck with swimming pool, bar, and small buffet. Some suites do not have balconies, but all have access to a concierge and butler service, including laundry, dry-cleaning, and pressing services. Amenities include a Nintendo Wii console, pillow menu, complimentary minibar, Egyptian-cotton sheets, slippers and robe during the cruise, walk-in closets, and marble bathrooms with bathtubs. Standard suites are comparable in size to minisuites on most cruise ships. They feature a combination tub-shower in the bathroom, plenty of storage in a walk-in closet, and a sitting area.
Bathrooms are supplied with MSC Cruises’ own brand of shampoo, bath gel, and soaps, plus a handy sewing repair kit.
Forty-three cabins are wheelchair accessible, including two in the MSC Yacht Club.
Food & Drink
The two-deck-high formal restaurant serves an open seating breakfast and lunch; dinner is in two assigned seatings. Two specialty restaurants (reservation, extra charge) serve Italian and Tex-Mex cuisine. The Lido buffet is the casual-dining option for all meals; at night, the buffet restaurant also serves pizza. Coffee bars are a good snack option for times when the buffet is closed, but there is a charge for coffee and pastries. Room service has a limited menu of Continental breakfast and cold sandwiches. Midnight buffets vary nightly, ranging from snacks to a gala affair.
After dinner, the coffee bars are the main social gathering spots, as is customary on European ships. Elaborate evening entertainment in the show lounges is designed for multilingual audiences and relies on sight and familiarity with musical selections rather than language. Bars and lounges range from sports bars, piano bars, and cigar lounges to high-energy dance spots, with the entertainment staff on hand to get things going. More sedate bars are also available for a quiet nightcap.
Spa & Fitness
The Zen-like, Asian-inspired Aurea Spa offers a full menu of treatments, some of them Asian-inspired as well. The large therapy pool and thermal suite, which has a Turkish bath and sauna, are complimentary for occupants of Yacht Club accommodations and available to all for a daily fee.