Considering taking a cruise on one of the many MSC cruise ships? You’ve certainly got a lot of ships, and itineraries, to choose from. As the third-largest cruising company in the world after Carnival and Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises carries nearly 10% of all the world’s cruise passengers each year.
The MSC Cruises fleet consists of 19 ships, as old as 21 years (MSC Armonia was built in 2001), and as new as just a year old, with the MSC Seashore built in 2021. Here’s everything you need to know.
In This Article…
MSC Cruise Ships by Class
Of course, when picking a cruise ship to take among any of those belonging to one individual cruise line, one of the most important considerations you’ll have is ship class.
Cruise ship classes differ widely and even if two cruise ships come from the same line, if they’re in different classes, one might appeal to one cruiser, while another cruiser may hate their experience on that ship. MSC cruise ships are split into five current classes.
|Lirica Class||MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Opera|
|Musica Class||MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra, MSC Poesía, MSC Magnifica|
|Fantasia Class||MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, MSC Divina, MSC Preziosa|
|Meraviglia Class||MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa|
|Seaside Class||MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Seashore|
The MSC Lirica class is a bit of a mixed bag. The oldest ship in the group was actually named Mistral and the class it started was the Mistral class. However, Mistral was not owned by MSC Cruises. Instead, Mistral was a Renaissance Cruises ship built in the 1990s.
When Renaissance Cruises withdrew their order for Mistral, though, Festival Cruises took the order over and added two more ships to it … and then went bankrupt.
Some of the Mistral-class ships were taken over by MSC Cruises, while the original Mistral was sold off several times and is now known as AIDAmira, an AIDA Cruises ship.
The two original Festival Cruises Mistral-class ships that you’ll now see among MSC Cruises’ fleet are MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia (previously named European Stars and European Visions). After taking on these two ships, MSC Cruises added two more ships to their newly-formed Lirica class — MSC Lirica and MSC Opera.
But this class’s twisty history aside, what can you expect if you take a cruise on a Lirica-class ship?
Lirica-class ships are the smallest in MSC Cruises’ fleet and, as such, they’re a little more lacking in terms of amenities and fun. You’ll find that most cruisers are more interested in spending time off the ship, during their itineraries, than enjoying everything the ship has to offer.
All of the ships have at least two pools and a handful of restaurants, and each has a capacity for about 2,000 passengers.
Next in line, the Musica class was kicked off in 2006 with MSC Cruises’s introduction of lead ship MSC Musica. The class also includes MSC Orchestra, MSC Poesia and MSC Magnifica.
These mid-size cruise ships are larger than what you’ll find in the Lirica class, but still smaller and more intimate than MSC Cruises’ mega ships.
Amenities typically include two pools, a handful of restaurants and multiple entertainment spaces such as a theater and casino. Don’t, however, expect a ton of family-friendly amenities or outdoor thrills, like the waterparks and rock-climbing walls that you’ll find on other ships.
While the Fantasia class ships — MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa — aren’t the biggest, best and flashiest in the world right now, they were, at the time of their debut in 2008, considered just that.
Because of this, you’ll find a lot of extra amenities and fun here that you won’t on the older MSC cruise ships. Think five pools each, lots of children’s areas, waterslides, cinemas, sport courts, casinos and more.
If, though, you’re looking for the newest and best among the MSC cruise ships, you’ve got to look to the Meraviglia class. Kicked off in 2017 (and still not finished yet!), if you’re looking for a modern mega ship like you may already be familiar with from other cruise lines, this class is the way to go.
Meraviglia-class ships include MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa. A final Meraviglia-class ship, MSC Euribia, is slated to debut in 2023 (but more on that in a moment).
Also, technically, MSC Grandiose and MSC Virtuosa are considered Meraviglia Plus ships, as they’re just slightly larger, but you’ll find the experiences to be much the same.
These ships offer a stunning, admirable number of restaurants and bars (more than two dozen). They feature a one-of-a-kind, interior promenade with a digital sky that was all the rage when it first debuted. Other features include water parks, racing simulators, cinemas and more.
Lastly, there’s the Seaside class, which includes ships that are about the same ages as the ships in the Meraviglia class. The earliest Seaside-class ship was MSC Seaside, premiering in 2017, followed by MSC Seaview and MSC Seashore. A fourth Seaside-class ship is set to appear later this year, MSC Seascape.
These ships are large, like the Meraviglia-class ships, but are specifically designed for tropical cruising. There’s tons of outdoor space on each ship, zip lines, multiple pool areas, a large outdoor promenade, etcetera. In fact, if you’re looking at MSC cruise ships overall, the Seaside class offers more outdoor space per passenger than any of the other ships in the MSC fleet.
MSC Cruise Ships by Size
While we mentioned that some of the ships from MSC Cruises are on the smaller side (the Lirica class) and some are on the mega ship end of things (the Meraviglia class), what if you want to know all the nitty-gritty details about size, builder and passenger capacity? Well, then just take a look at our list below.
|Cruise Ship||Gross Tonnage||Passenger Capacity|
MSC Cruise Ships by Age
Looking for info on age? Here are the MSC cruise ships by year built, starting with the newest ships first.
|Cruise Ship||Year Built|
|MSC World Europa||2022|
With ships as old as 21 years and ships as new as debuting just this year, MSC’s cruise ships vary widely. The newest ships are the biggest in the fleet, with the most amenities and cruise industry-first features. However, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily look over the older ships among the batch.
MSC Armonia, for example, was built in 2001 and entered service for MSC Cruises in 2004, but it features a lot of MSC favorites, such as four staple restaurants, a spa, casino and a children’s area. At 58,600 GT, the ship is on the smaller side, only holding 2,000 passengers, but, for many cruisers, that’s a pro not a con.
For most of the ship’s life, it catered to European travelers sailing the Mediterranean, but, more recently, the ship has been sailing the Caribbean.
Future MSC Cruise Ships
There are a lot of exciting things coming to MSC Cruises in the near future — including a brand-new class of cruise ships!
The New World Class
The World class is slated to debut in late 2022 and will include the lead vessel MSC World Europa. This state-of-the-art ship will be truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
The first LNG-propelled new cruise ship for the brand, the ship will offer the latest and greatest in water recycling and purifying, and newer, quieter motors will be less disruptive to ocean habitats. The ship will feature 13 dining venues, a 341-foot promenade with panoramic ocean views and a record-breaking, longest dry slide at sea.
New dining options for MSC Cruises on the ship will include a microbrewery, a restaurant with the first hydroponic garden at sea and a new Mediterranean seafood restaurant.
Entertainment will be easy to find on this ship, no matter the age of the cruiser. The ship will offer the largest waterpark on an MSC cruise ship to date, seven pools and new street-style entertainment.
MSC Cruises’s partnership with LEGO has been expanded to include a new playroom for kids. New activities in the children’s areas will incorporate 20 gaming consoles, seven VR stations and more than 50 video games to choose from. New family activities range from sports programming to game shows to drone racing.
The ship will offer 19 different staterooms with seven new stateroom designs. The ship will also include more balcony staterooms than any other MSC cruise ship. But that’s not the only new ship that you have to look forward to.
The Latest in the Meraviglia Class
The aforementioned MSC Euribia sets sail in June 2023. A member of the Meraviglia class, you can expect this ship to offer tons of fun and a mega-ship setting.
The unique hull design focuses on MSC Cruises’ commitment to sustainability, while the LNG system will reduce the ship’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
Fun features include five pools, a large waterpark, the longest LED dome at sea in the promenade, and of course, all the other fun you’ve come to expect from MSC Cruises.
The Latest in the Seaside Class
Likewise, a new Seaside-class ship is on the docket. The MSC Seascape will offer a very similar experience to sister ship MSC Seashore, plus extra and new features like the MSC Robotron, a new thrill ride, which will make its debut on the ship.
Other standout features include a pool with a 360-degree water fountain and interior lounge space, and one of the largest and most luxurious MSC Yacht Clubs in the MSC Cruises fleet.
This particular cruise ship is catering to families in a big way. The cruise line recently announced that it will offer 98 hours of family-friendly live entertainment per cruise. This live entertainment will include new, interactive, family-centric game shows.
Read Also: MSC Yacht Club: Is it Worth it?
The cruise ship also provides the largest kids’ space in the entire MSC Cruises fleet. That space will include three new concept spaces for teenagers, aged 12 to 17.
One area will focus on tech, while another is all about hanging out and socializing with peers, while another focuses on music and dance. Initially, after the ship debuts later this year, it will serve nearly 6,000 passengers at a time.
Which MSC Ship is Right for Me?
As you can tell, the MSC cruise ships vary widely based on which class of cruise ships you’re looking at. If you want a small ship with an intimate setting and you don’t need a lot of flashy amenities, you’ll likely be just fine on a Lirica-class ship.
However, if you need all the bells and whistles that a mega ship offers, you’re going to want to book a cruise on either a Meraviglia or Seaside cruise ship.
And, of course, for the latest and greatest in all things sustainability, tech, family fun and luxury, there’s no better cruise ship to book than one of the three newest MSC cruise ships launching over the next year.
MSC Ships FAQ
Yes, you’ll find casinos on each MSC cruise ship.
As of July 25, 2022, there are 19 MSC cruise ships and six more under construction or on order. They are split into five current classes: Lirica, Musica, Fantasia, Meraviglia and Seaside.
The current largest MSC cruise ship in the line’s fleet is MSC Virtuosa, with a gross tonnage of 181,541 GT and a total guest capacity of 6,334 passengers. The vessel will be overtaken by
Do MSC cruise ships have casinos?
Yes, you’ll find casinos on each MSC cruise ship.
How many class MSC cruise ships are there?
MSC cruise ships are split into five current classes: Lirica, Musica, Fantasia, Meraviglia and Seaside.
What’s the largest MSC cruise ship?
The current largest MSC cruise ship in the line’s fleet is MSC Virtuosa, with a gross tonnage of 181,541 GT and a total guest capacity of 6,334 passengers. When MSC World Europa debuts in December 2022, she will become the largest in the fleet at over 200,000 gross tons.