MSC Magnifica falls into the Musica Class of ships, which debuted with 90,000-ton, 2,550-passenger Musica, launched in 2006. Musica featured an innovative new design for MSC. Introduced on the vessel were more contemporary features, such as a sprawling spa, a wider range of dining venues -- like the now-standard wine bar -- and a much higher number of balcony cabins. MSC Musica has since been followed by siblings MSC Orchestra and MSC Poesia (launched in 2007 and 2008, respectively). MSC Magnifica launched in 2010.
One of the key criticisms leveled at all MSC ships is "they're too glitzy." Yet Magnifica really is no more or less glitzy than other big cruise ships; the atrium on most older Carnival cruise ships would be much glitzier than Magnifica's. (Plus, the ship has no Swarovski crystals tucked away in the stairs, unlike the newer MSC ships.)
What it does have is a multitude of bars (with drinks at reasonable prices), an excellent spa and large fitness area, kids club, and a good-sized lido deck pool, plus another inside one. It also has great flow; it's well designed and easy to get around, which is a massive plus.
Where it loses marks is in the quality and variety of cuisine. The former is a real letdown for a line that puts such an emphasis on food. There are just two specialty restaurants, which is limiting on a ship of Magnifica's size. The entertainment onboard is also way behind the times when compared with modern cruise ships -- think slapstick vaudeville, rather than Vegas glitz.
Another potential area of concern is what the ship does not have, compared to other mega-ships: water parks, climbing walls and other active pursuits like simulated surfing, for example, which are de rigueur on most ships from other major lines.
The ship divides its time between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and it will be making its U.K. debut in September 2014.
Three years ago, MSC changed the first language onboard all its ships from Italian to English, so there will be no challenges for English-speakers. The challenge will lie in whether this ship has enough wow factors to draw an international passenger base.
MSC Magnifica Fellow Passengers It depends entirely where the ship is deployed, which is in Northern Europe during the summer, the Mediterranean for the short shoulder season (September to October) or Brazil for the winter.
During the summer, it attracts mainly Germans and Dutch cruisers. When it's in the Med, the majority of passengers are Italian, and for the winter they're mainly Brazilian with a smattering of other Latin American nationalities. The ship's character changes wildly during each of these deployments, with timetables shifted to cater for each nationality. When the ship sails out of Southampton, passengers will be mostly British.