MSC Meraviglia is a 171,598-ton, 4,475-passenger ship with Mediterranean and Caribbean itineraries, the latter with a stop at Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island in the Bahamas. In 2023, the ship will sail from New York year-round, with cruises to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada/New England.
MSC has always emphasized the "Mediterranean way of life" tag for its ships, but Meraviglia marks a move away from strictly that with some international (North American) concessions. Everything is in English (signage, first language, announcements), and there is an American steakhouse.
Meraviglia boasts concepts similar to those made popular by other lines -- a teppanyaki restaurant (Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal's Oasis-class ships); a central promenade that is almost a carbon copy of Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class ships; a high-tech theater that looks like Royal's Quantum-class Two-70; duplex suites (Royal) and so on. Then it sprinkles its own touches -- the extraordinary MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club, possibly the finest key-card-access suite enclave at sea; a chocolate shop and cafe; a link up with LEGO and Eataly and that MSC signature -- genuine Swarovski crystal studded stairs, which form the centerpiece of the main atrium.
But none of it jars. And it so easily could. Despite the sheer number of passengers, we never witnessed pinch points onboard; there is always a venue or a spot you can go to get away from the craziness. And if there is one criticism, it's just that: Everything is kept at fever pitch, from the pool parties all day and most nights, the clubs, the parades and the shows -- it's nonstop. But hey, if you like that, then this is the ship for you. What is true is that all types of passengers are catered to here, with tons of things to do on MSC Meraviglia, from theme nights to waterslides, shows, a spa, dozens of bars and restaurants, trivia games, and kids’ clubs.
The line has also improved significantly in two areas in which it often came in for criticism: food and service. It's linked up with a couple of name chefs (Carlo Cracco and the chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury); and has clearly been working hard on training. We found service universally of a high standard.
Although there are 19 decks, the majority of MSC Meragivlia’s cabins are spread over seven of them; the rest take up small sections on decks shared with public areas. This means that, unlike on other ships, there are hundreds of staterooms that are not directly above or below busy, loud restaurants, theaters or dance clubs, making them quieter.
All in all, MSC Meraviglia is a really well thought out and considered design, which takes the best of the brand and adds an international edge, with great success.
Travelers exploring options for a Mediterranean sailing are often torn between MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. While both cruise ships offer similar European itineraries, there are a few differences worth noting. MSC Meraviglia is slightly bigger and has a few more restaurants, but it’s in the design front where they differ most: MSC Seaside is all about the outdoors, with an outdoor spa and gym area, a zipline, and an outdoor seafront promenade lined with bars, shops and sun loungers. The MSC Meraviglia promenade, however, is covered by a stunning LED dome but has the same lively vibe.
MSC offers passengers three tiers of inclusions (or “experiences”), each with its own perks and price.
Bella Experience: This is the most basic package and comes with all the standard inclusions listed above.
Fantastica Experience: This tier is only available for passengers booking a Balcony, Ocean View or Interior cabin. Perks include the opportunity to choose the cabin and its location, free in-room breakfast, discounted beverage package rates and specialty restaurant meals, and 24-hour room service (with a set delivery fee).
Aurea Experience: Available for Suite passengers only, this tier adds a few extras to Fantastica, including welcome wine and sweets, free 24-hour room service, MyChoice dining options, free access to the Solarium and the adult-only Thermal Suite, in-room robes and slippers, pillow menus, and priority boarding.
In addition to these packages, passengers seeking a more exclusive experience can book a cabin in the MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club, which is a separate section within the ship with extra perks. 24-hour butler service, dedicated concierges, a la carte meals at the Yacht Club restaurant, free minibar items, free drinks in all Yacht Club bars and lounges, free Wi-Fi, and exclusive access to a sun deck and Top Sail Lounge are only some of the Yacht Club privileges.
All meals in the two main dining rooms and Marketplace Buffet
Water, tea, coffee and milk; juice available at breakfast only
Use of the water park, sports areas and mini-golf
Use of the fitness center, excluding classes or training sessions
Most daily activities onboard, including trivia games, live music, and classes and workshops
Use of the kids’, tween and teen clubs
Access to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, including buffet lunch and use of sun loungers on the beach
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with the exception of water, tea and coffee
Room service (included for higher-tier cruise packages only)
Some evening shows
Meals in specialty restaurants
Wi-Fi (except for Yacht Club passengers)
Spa treatments, fitness classes and training sessions
Purchases from onboard shops
Bowling, F1 simulator and arcade games
Even though most passengers were European back when MSC Meraviglia launched in Italy in 2017, the crowd is now more of a mix, especially for its Caribbean sailings, when passengers of all nationalities can be seen onboard. The average age is around the early 40s for adults, though with the strong emphasis on family expect literally hundreds of kids during school vacations, all of which are extremely well catered for. The only thing that some might find jarring is the fact that there are no adult-only areas on the ship.
All announcements are in five languages: English first, then Italian, Spanish, French and German.
The dress code on MSC Meraviglia is mostly casual, especially during the day. Even elegant nights can be a fairly relaxed affair, so you might want to leave your dressier outfits at home.
Daytime: During the daytime it's casual, with people wandering around in just swimsuits and flip-flops.
Evening: In the evening it's dressier, but more smart casual than formal, except for the two "elegant" (not formal) nights per cruise. A jacket for the men and a dress for the ladies would not go amiss, but it's not strictly enforced. A suit or tux or ball gown are not necessary, though on the meet-the-captain night people go all-out.
Not permitted: T-shirts and shorts are not allowed in the ships' public areas in the evenings. No swimwear is allowed in main dining rooms. Jeans are not allowed in the dining room on elegant nights.
Read more about MSC Cruises dress code.