Royal Caribbean Overall Impression
We had a brilliant cruise and were very lucky with the price we paid for the cruise. We booked pre-pandemic and the price was honoured.
I loved the ship, the soda machines, the entertainment and the crew. I would definitely recommend a cruise on Anthem of The Seas and I look forward to cruising with Royal Caribbean in the future.
To find out more about my Royal Caribbean cruise, check out this video next:
Small Ship Line #1: Star Clippers
Star Clippers has a fleet of three ships, with its flagship Royal Clipper holding the record as the worlds largest full-rigged sailing ship. All three are sailing yachts, unfurling their sails for itineraries across the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia, with classic exteriors and interiors featuring several bars, a swimming pool, library, and formal dining room.
What Is There To Do On Msc Cruises
Ive always found that the daytime entertainment to be lacking on MSC Cruises. With no free activities on offer, people are encouraged to visit the boutiques, casino and spa all of which provide extra revenue to supplement the low fares.
At first glance, the daily planner looks like it has a lot of activities, but on closer inspection, many of these are things like David Beckham Sunglasses , The Modern Assessment of Health or paid activities like yoga.
If youd rather not spend more money on board, I recommend bringing a few card games on board. Our favourite is Monopoly Deal.
The newer MSC Cruises ships are packed with exciting activities that kids and adults will love. However, while similar activities are included in the cruise fare on other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises charge extra for these things.
Heres a rough guide to what you can expect to pay to use the facilities on MSC Cruises ships:
The cost may vary depending on the currency of the ship and the prices may vary slightly for kids or if two people do the activity at once.
To save money on these activities you can buy an MSC Fun Pass before your cruise. If you pay a certain amount for the pass, you get extra credit which you can use to pay for the activities. The pass can be used by everyone in your family.
You can also buy the Fun Pass on the ship, but youll usually get a better deal by buying it in advance.
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Msc Vs Royal Caribbean: Comparing The Two Cruise Lines
- Publish date: Sep 15, 2022 2:19 PM EDT
Royal Caribbean International , Carnival Cruise Line , and Norwegian Cruise Line dominate the family-friendly mid-tier cruise market. Walt Disney , of course, has made its mark in that space, but it’s generally a higher price point and a relatively small cruise line.
In the Florida market, sailing mostly to the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian are the big players, with Royal Caribbean — specifically its largest Oasis-class ships — being my personal favorite. MSC, a cruise line founded in Italy that made its mark in Europe, has been stepping up its offerings out of Florida.
MSC has sailed in the U.S. since the 1990s and now uses both Miami and Port Canaveral as homeports. It sails MSC Divina, a mid-size ship that accommodates a little over 4,300 passengers at full capacity, on Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral.
Essentially, Divina compares in size/passenger count to the Royal Caribbean Voyager and Freedom-class ships sailing Caribbean itineraries from multiple Florida ports. MSC Divina, in fact, often sits docked nearby Mariner of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship sailing similar itineraries.
Why Are Msc Cruises So Cheap
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When you search for cruise deals online and order the results by price from lowest to highest, MSC Cruises usually appear at the top of the list.
According to my research about how much cruises cost with each cruise line, MSC Cruises cost around 25% less than the average cruise.
But why are MSC Cruises so cheap? Are MSC Cruises bad? Or just great value for money?
In this article, Ill explain all the reasons why MSC Cruises are cheaper than most other cruise lines so that you can decide whether to go ahead and book one or not.
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How To Get Cheap Booze Delivered To Your Cabin On The Final Night
At some point during your cruise, go to the duty-free liquor store onboard and buy a bottle. This tax-free liquor is well-priced and you may even catch an additional sale on alcohol from time to time. Unfortunately, the duty-free shop will not allow you to take those bottles back to your cabin that is, until the last night. On the final afternoon of your cruise, any bottles that you purchased will be delivered directly to your stateroom.
Also on the final evening of the cruise, the duty-free store will, in fact, allow you to walk out of the shop with any liquor you purchase. On one cruise, we noticed that an entire liter bottle of vodka at the duty-free shop was actually priced less than two shots of the exact same vodka if you were to purchase it at the bar.
Additionally, any alcohol purchased while in port will also be delivered to your stateroom on the finalday of your cruise. So dont hesitate to buy that delicious Jamaican rum or snag that bottle of tequila while docked in Cozumel. When you return to the cruise ship, you can easily check the bottle with security. Then once the last night of your cruise rolls around, any bottles that youve purchased ashore will be delivered to your room.
So on your last night of a cruise, have a party in your stateroom and enjoy! Just be sure to schedule a late disembarkation time the next day.
Dress Codes In Speciality Dining Restaurants
Most of MSCs specialty dining restaurants dont have strict dress codes.
The majority of guests do dress nicely when going to a specialty restaurant as opposed to the main dining room as its generally seen as a bit of a treat!
Passengers tend to go to specialty restaurants for birthdays, anniversaries or just to experience the specialty restaurant.
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Msc Vs Royal Caribbean In The Caribbean
With 16 ships and years of experience taking North Americans to islands throughout the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean is a recognized name brand, often one of the first cruisers think of when planning a Caribbean cruise. MSC, with only two ships and less experience selling to North Americans in the region, is a relative newcomer without the same level of name recognition.
But with a strong marketing push and competitive sales pricing, MSC has started making itself a part of the decision conversation. But how to know which of the two is actually right for you? The lines, while similar in many basic ways are also quite different.
To help you decide which is the best choice for your Caribbean cruise, Cruise Critic has compared MSC vs. Royal Caribbean in regards to ship choices, cruise itineraries, the onboard experience and prices.
Attempt Bringing Beer Back While In Port
Most cruise line policies strictly forbid passengers from bringing any alcohol back to the ship from port. That means beer is not allowed back onboard, of course. But weve found that security on many ships will often overlook passengers bringing beer back onboard. To find out, we typically experiment with attempting to bring on a few cans during the first port day.
Were never sneaky and dont attempt to hide the beer. Rather, we run it through the x-ray machine in plain sight. Sometimes the beer will be flagged by security and stored until the final night of the cruise. In that case, we know its probably not worth attempting to bring beer back aboard when in subsequent ports.
But in many instances, security actually allows the beer to be carried on the cruise, no questions asked. For whatever reason, weve had more success with beer cans being accepted, rather than bottles.
So go ahead and give it a try! The worst-case outcome is that security will hold onto your beers for you until the final night of the cruise, as per most cruise lines alcohol policy. And you can still drink those beers on the final night of the cruise. So you really dont have anything to lose by attempting to bring a few beers back aboard the ship with you. And you dont have to be sneaky about it.
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Royal Caribbean International An Iconic Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean is the worlds leading cruise line, carrying over 6 million passengers every year. They are known for their iconic Royal Promenade, a throughfare which is the main atrium of the ship, their high quality of service and some of the largest cruise ships at sea with outstanding activites and facilities.
Royal Caribbean International was founded in Norway but is based in Miami. The cruise line has two private islands in the Caribbean for cruise guests Labadee and Coco Cay. It owns 25 cruise ships, has more in production and it also owns sister company Celebrity cruises.
Medium Ship Line #: P& o Cruises
The British line P& O Cruises is the oldest in the world, established in 1837 to ferry mail and passengers between the United Kingdom and the Iberian Peninsula, but it began to offer leisure operationsthe very first cruises as we know themas early as 1844. The ships cater to a primarily British audience, and they provide good value for a classic cruising experience. Guests enjoy traditional activities like shuffleboard, dance classes, and pub quizzes. The ships typically sail in Europe, though they also have ports of call in Asia and the Middle East.
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How To Book A Cheap Cruise
Booking a cheap cruise is actually quite easy and requires only one thing: flexibility. See, cruise pricing is similar to tour pricing. The closer you get to the departure date, the cheaper the cruise becomes.
Because cruise ships dont want to depart with half-empty boats, so they drop prices steadily until that boat is leaving port, since for them empty cabins mean less money.
Cruises make the majority of their money from what people purchase on board, so they want bodies on those ships.
You can also book early, but I find last-minute bookings to be the best. And since you are booking close to departure, you need to be flexible with where you are willing to go or OK with not booking the actual cruise even if you booked your flights.
Another tip comes Doug Parker of Cruise Radio, When the kids are in school, the rates are the best. This holds true in all travel but especially cruising, because it is such a family activity. Dont travel when everyone else is traveling! If you do that or travel during the shoulder season, you can find the best rates. Chris from Chris Cruises also reiterates my recommendation: Book far in advance or last minute for the best fares.
What Drinks Are Included On Msc Cruises
Most MSC Cruises do not include drinks, although you may sometimes get a drink package included as part of your cruise fare, depending on the deal that you booked.
Even if your cruise does not include drinks, youll always be able to get free water, coffee, tea, iced tea, lemonade, milk and chocolate milk as well as fruit juice at breakfast time. These arent available in the bars though, usually only in the main dining room or buffet at set times.
This is similar to the offering on most other cruise lines.
Just like other cruise lines, MSC Cruises offer a selection of drink packages that you can purchase to transform your cruise from full-board to all-inclusive. The prices vary depending on what drinks youd like to be included and also where in the world your cruise takes place.
Youll find more info on MSC drinks packages here.
The drinks on MSC Cruises are priced similarly to other cruise lines which means that theyre a little more expensive than you may expect in bars and restaurants on land. Take a look at these MSC drinks menus with prices to get an idea of how much you might pay for drinks.
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Msc Cruises Offer Cheap Deals On Older Ships
MSC Cruises has 17 cruise ships in the fleet. The newest is the 6,000+ passenger MSC Virtuosa, while the oldest is the twenty-year-old MSC Armonia which accommodates 2500 guests.
As with any cruise line, cruises on the smaller, older ships are usually the cheapest. Youll often find that MSCs Lirica-class ships offer the cheapest deals.
The difference between the oldest and newest ships in any fleet can be quite stark. Not only are the newer ships bigger and more modern, they also have a lot of facilities like water slides, zip lines and robot bartenders.
The older MSC ships dont have much to do besides swimming, the casino and the gym. This makes them better suited to port-intensive itineraries where youll be off the ship each day exploring new destinations.
Cruise ships are generally refurbished every two to three years, although that is sometimes stretched a little longer with MSC Cruises. MSC Armonia was last refurbished in 2014 and the other Lirica-class ships in 2015.
For more information about each of the MSC Cruises ships, take a look at my guide to MSC Cruise ships by size, age and class.
On the whole, the MSC Cruises ships are comparable to most other cruise lines in terms of the size of the ships and the facilities you can expect on board.
However, its important to know that many things that are included in the cruise fare with other cruises have an extra fee on MSC Cruises. More on that further in this guide.
Boarding & First Impressions
Well be honest, with such a low fare, we werent sure what to expect at first. And the initial impressions of the boarding and cruise ship werent that great.
First, we arrived right when the boarding window opened at noon. We normally avoid arriving at the start of boarding because the rush of people to get on the ship can cause delays. Thats exactly what happened with this trip.
The boarding process was slow. While the agents seemed to work as quickly as they could, it just didnt seem like there were enough people to process all the passengers quickly. Wed estimate it took us an hour from the time we arrived at the terminal until we were walking the gangway to get on the ship.
With our cabin not ready yet, we went to explore the ship. Overall the ship was gorgeous. Despite being built in 2012, it largely looked updated and well-maintained. And while some of the decor was dated, it looked similar to other cruises we had been on.
One area that was lacking was the pools. When first boarding, the pool in the solarium area was empty and seemed to be under repair. The main pool in the middle of the ship was a distinct shade of green. Thankfully both were ready to go and bright blue by the next morning.
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That’s not to say MSC failed in all its dining choices. Its free buffet pizza is much better than Royal Caribbean’s onboard “Sorrento’s” pizza place. And, the slightly added-fee pizza was quite good while the two gelato shops onboard offered interesting flavors for just a few dollars. Divina also had superior coffee and pastries that beat out Royal Caribbean’s comparable offering.
Divina also has an added-fee steakhouse and Japanese restaurant that were perhaps a small step below their counterparts on Royal Caribbean.
Look For The Captains Toast To Get Free Drinks
If you notice any event in the daily itinerary titled something like Captains Toast or Captains Reception, this always means there will be servers running around with trays full of complimentary cocktails, wine, and/or champagne. Dont miss it!
Typically these events will last at least a half hour. So arrive promptly to get your fill of free drinks!
Hang out, find a nice cozy spot where the drink servers are coming out of, and then cheers to the the captain!
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Msc Vs Royal Caribbean: The Private Island
Royal Caribbean’s “Perfect Day at CocoCay” offers a bit of everything as it has tranquil beaches, a huge pool that starts tranquil and builds into a party atmosphere, an added waterpark, and an added-fee Beach Club. It’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure island.
MSC’s Ocean Cay offers a more serene beach experience with a huge tranquil beach, and not much else. It’s not a party scene , but if you want relaxing, clear water, and a lot of sun, Ocean Cay offers a marvelous experience.
In addition, some MSC Divina cruises do an overnight at Ocean Cay complete with nighttime party and a laser show. Rain scuttled those plans on my trip, but getting to overnight at the island was a bonus.
Both companies offer similar free barbecue options on the islands with Royal Caribbean having a few free “Snack Shacks” offering burgers and mozzarella sticks while Ocean Cay has some added-fee food trucks offering higher-end fare.
What Is The Dress Code On An Msc Cruise
The evening dress codes on MSC cruises range from casual to elegant depending on the night. On relaxed nights the only restrictions are no shorts or swimwear in the main dining rooms. On gala and elegant nights, the dress code suggests a collared shirt for men and a dress or blouse/trousers combination for women.
That said, the dress codes on MSC cruises arent very strictly enforced.
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