First graders and kindergartners tend to have a lot to say. And of all the observations made by my chatty and opinionated little ones on our summer cruise around the Mediterranean on board MSC World Europa (including “Why does everyone speak French?” during a port of call in Marseilles and “This looks like West Virginia,” (not untrue) during a shore excursion in the hills around Messina, Sicily), one remark truly caught me by surprise:
“This is even better than Disney Wish,” proclaimed by son, 6, at 11 p.m. one evening, buzzing with adrenaline after a six-hour stint with his sister at MSC World Europa’s “Doremiland” Kids Club.
The ship’s 8,245-square-foot kids club is included in the price of admission on all sailings for kids up to 17 years old aboard MSC World Europa. And mine bee-lined there shortly after boarding in Barcelona–and in every subsequent port, too, including the one where we didn’t pick them up until after the night’s final activity: a kids’ rave at the 300-seat Luna Park Arena.
My son’s statement was a bold one, I thought, considering all the fun we’d gotten up to together and apart onboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish, which launched in 2022. But when I got a backstage tour of MSC World Europa’s sprawling kids club before it opened up to my banging-down-the-door kids one morning, I got a glimpse of just what my son was raving on about.
Designed by noted brands Lego and Chicco, MSC World Europa’s Doremiland – MSC’s branded terminology for their kids clubs -- is the largest in the MSC Cruises’ fleet, and undoubtedly one of the largest at sea.
Situated on Deck 19, Doremiland spreads across seven different spaces flooded with natural light and scenic views streaming in through from floor-to-ceiling windows, with experiences and play zones designed to appeal to age groups ranging from babies under 12 months to 17 year olds.
Children are grouped together between those under three years old (Baby Club), 3 to 6-year-olds (Mini Club), 7 to 11-year-olds (Junior Club), 12 to 14-year-olds (Young Club) and 15 to 17-year-olds (Teen Club). To leave your kids here for the main programs, they must be at least 12 months old.
For babies under 12 months, guests can reserve two hours of babysitting in the club per day, although staff can't do things like change diapers or give them naps or bottles, so it’s really just about keeping your baby company with some cuddles while you sneak in a spa treatment, a workout or some other you time.
The MSC Kids Club is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, including when the ship is in port, except on at-sea days, when it’s open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (with no lunch included) and then again from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
And get this: you can leave the ship and go off on your own when in port and leave your kids in the Mini and Junior Clubs with MSC World Europa’s dedicated Youth Staff. They’ll even take your kids to both lunch and dinner, if you please, at one of the ship’s two main buffets, where they all sit at big tables off in a quiet corner of the dining room and wait for their meals to be served.
For parents wanting to take a more adult excursion – or simply enjoy some time in port by themselves – that feature alone is a real plus.
here are several brand-new kids club activities, firsts for the line, that debuted on MSC World Europa when it launched in 2022.
One of the highlights for younger kids is an entire room dedicated to the beloved colorful building blocks known as LEGO. In the LEGO Celebration Room, 90 years of play is commemorated at bright yellow tables covered with LEGO boards and sidled with troughs of the iconic blocks.
The club’s sports program, situated in a huge netted-in outdoor space, stages basketball games, soccer matches, zorb ball activities, bumper cars, roller skating and two brand new diversions, too - pickleball and hoverboarding. Don’t worry: bumper cars and other sporty activities are open to all ages at set times in the MSC Daily Program.
And the awesome “Drone Academy,” which plays out in the ship’s SportsPlex for kids between the ages of 7 and 11, uses point-of-view cameras and virtual reality to offer drone relay races complete with glowing craft and fluorescent effects. My son, 6 when we sailed but obsessed with all flying things, was understandably devastated he was slightly too young to try it.
Other high-tech debuts at Doremiland include 7 virtual reality stations, 21 of the latest gaming consoles, and more than 50 video games (if you’re trying to wean your kids off gaming, avoid this place at all costs).
Doremiland’s non-stop lineup of entertainment takes kids and teens elsewhere around the ship, too, for supervised fun in the Luna Park Arena on Decks 5 and 6. Here, dance competitions are led by the awesome MSC Dance Crew (with X Factor and Got Talent series credit to its programming), with a booming sound system and a massive screen as a backdrop.
I loved that my husband and I could pop in and watch the kids dancing on Deck 5 from up above on Deck 6 (without them seeing us) before retreating back to the nearby karaoke bar, our favorite evening hangout, for one last cocktail before pickup.
Another moment with the kids we loved sharing onboard was the morning time Doremi Wakeup Rave–another new offering on MSC World Europa, where we kicked off the day dancing together (when does that ever happen, especially on a school day, back home?).
Of course, older kids might want to participate in activities that have an additional cost. Fear not. For kids aged 7 to 17, parents can set a spending limit on their accounts to control their charges on things like drinks, video games and Fun Pass activities.
We’re several months post-cruise now, and my kids still break out the lyrics to the MSC Kids Club's theme song at random moments (“Doremi, come and dance with me…”).
From the moment we embarked MSC World Europa, there wasn’t a day when they didn’t spend at least four hours in Doremiland crafting, dancing and hanging out with their new international friends.
We also managed to get off the ship to explore every port of call together. We ate all the pizza and gelato during miles walking around Naples and Genoa, saw Mt. Etna (their first volcano!) and swam in the Mediterranean Sea in France, Spain, Malta and Italy.
I disembarked from the cruise nicely chilled out, since I had plenty of down time for myself (much of which was spent in the thermal area of the gorgeous Aurea Spa, where you can watch the passing sea from saunas with floor-to-ceiling windows before cooling off in the snow room).
Not everything was perfect. My son, who was almost 7, did mention a few times that he wished he was put in together with the older kids club (I’m venturing a guess that’s mostly for the Drone Academy and video games).
He was also bummed he was tall enough, but not old enough (you have to be 7 years of age) to ride the ship’s four waterslides, including one with VR technology, and Venom Drop—an 11-deck dry slide that’s the highest at sea, and the centerpiece of the World Promenade. And I did chat with a few teenagers from Florida who had their own grumblings about the Teen Club, having struggled to mingle with some French girls since they couldn’t communicate with them (during our sailing, the crowd onboard was largely European).
But as for my little ones, they both had the time of their lives and came back from the kids club with endless stories—whether about watching Finding Nemo in German (majority rules when it comes to the language of movie screenings on any given day), dancing late night with Doremi in the Luna Park Arena or the Italian and French kids they befriended despite sharing no common language.
Do I wish their answer to the question of what they liked most about their summer vacation in Europe was along the lines of seeing Mt. Etna, the delicious pain au chocolat and macarons we tried in Marseilles or that amazing shore excursion we did to Gozo in Malta? Sure. But every time they blurt out “Doremi" in response, I fully understand why.