By Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

MSC Magnifica Entertainment & Activities

This is an Italian ship, and the entertainment reflects that, with shows about pizza and fashion dominating. However, MSC adapts what's on offer in terms of entertainment depending on where in the world the ship is sailing.

There are two main performances in the evening in the 1,240-seat Royal Theatre, one at 7:15 p.m. and one at 9:15 p.m. The main show, called Tagura on our sailing, starts off with an old-style slapstick routine, complete with audience participation. It was a nonspeaking (as is most of MSC's entertainment, due to the varied passenger base and languages spoken onboard), 45-minute song and dance revue based on bad pirates attacking natives. Anyone used to the big shows on the U.S. lines will find the show deeply underwhelming, with audio set too low and the visuals amateurish at best. However, where the show stood out was in the extraordinary acrobatics of the Mekele Acrobats, consisting of two men and one woman; their moves were, quite simply, breathtaking.

Movies are shown in the Royal Theatre throughout the day, and bingo also takes place in this venue.

Elsewhere on the ship, it really was business as usual. In fact, for anyone who is nostalgic for a simpler style of entertainment, then Magnifica could be for you; our daily program was rife with "Timeless classics performed by Gisela and Trio Stravinsky," "A Song for You performed by The Four Friends Band," "Cheek to Cheek -- Dance music by Duo 2 Memory," etc. These musical acts performed in the various bars and lounges on the ship, and all were average at best.

The main entertainment lounge is L'Ametista (capacity 330 people) at the aft of the ship, where from 5 p.m. to 1.30 a.m. there's be a variety of live bands, dancing and audience participation shows. On our sailing, we had "Italian Evening," and the show pitted two teams, the Pizza team and the Fashionistas, against each other in a trivia competition. The (all German) audience lapped it up, but the only issue is that spontaneity is hard when every single announcement and joke has to be made in five different languages (English, German, Italian, Spanish and French).

There are numerous other bars on Magnifica -- nine indoor bars and two outdoor ones in total -- and all are a good size. The largest is Tiger Bar, which seats 439 people, but it's more of a thoroughfare for people streaming out of the Royal Lounge than a destination in itself. Designed in what we can only term tasteful animal skin, it's wide with ample seating, but it lacks any real atmosphere.

Ruby and Sequoia, both on Deck 6 (capacity 45 each), are ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks. L'Olimpiade is the sports bar on Deck 7. It's nicely designed, with lots of original sporting memorabilia lining the walls and in glass cabinets. There is also a bar on Deck 5 at reception, Le Gocce. Topazio, midship on Deck 6, is a coffee bar.

Magnifica has an excellent cigar bar, Cuba Lounge, on Deck 7. It can seat 32 people, has a bar inside and offers a wide range of cigars to buy. MSC produces an A3-size newspaper available across the fleet, which has a full guide to all the cigars and cognacs available, as well as some tips and advice on how best to enjoy them.

There are two outdoor bars -- Il Bar de Sole, at the top of the ship on Deck 16, and La Conchiglia Bar, the pool bar. La Barchetta is the indoor pool bar.

Late-night entertainment takes place in the T32 disco on Deck 14 until late; a DJ plays a variety of dance tunes depending on the clientele. There is also mini-bowling for a per-game fee.

Away from the bars, there's a cinema, which shows a selection of six films, bombarding you with 4D effects like moving chairs and blasts of air. It's a lot of fun, but each viewing costs €7.90. A video games arcade is adjacent to the cinema. Both venues are open from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Deck 7 is where you'll find the Atlantic City casino, which has the usual array of slot machines and gaming tables, as well as an adjoining Poker Room.

Magnifica's enrichment activities are fairly limited, mostly comprising dance lessons and bingo.

The ship offers a wide variety of shore excursions, as well as customized and exclusive tours. Magnifica carries a number of bikes, too, which are used in guided cycling tours.

MSC Magnifica Public Rooms

The main atrium is a triple-deck affair, from Decks 5 to 7, crisscrossed by staircases. There you'll find the main reception area and shore excursions desk (Deck 5), MSC Travel Agency and all the shops (Deck 6). Stores sell the usual selection of jewelry, logo-branded goods and duty-free items. Boutique stores also sell brand-name clothing. A deck above lies the photo gallery, a card room and a small library. An Internet cafe is also on that deck, but you can access Wi-Fi throughout the ship if you've brought your own laptop. Charges are based on packages that start at €12 for 60 minutes, €19 for 100 minutes, €45 for 300 minutes, €59 for 480 minutes and €145 for 1,440 minutes. The Art Gallery is located on Deck 7.

The medical facility is on Deck 5.

There is no self-service launderette.

MSC Magnifica Spa & Fitness

Magnifica has two main pool areas, both on Deck 13. Le Grand Bleu consists of a main pool and four hot tubs, as well as an outdoor entertainment area with a dance floor for sailaway parties. La Grotta Azzura is the indoor pool area, which has a bar and lots of seating on the deck above, a retractable roof, a pool and two hot tubs.

There is plenty of seating all around, with some nifty deck chairs with sun shades for the head and face. It's worth noting that smoking is permitted along the whole port side, as well as in a section in the middle behind the pool, so if you don't like smoke, head starboard.

MSC Aurea Spa is situated on the same deck, right at the front of the ship. It consists of a thermal area, a juice and smoothie bar and 11 treatment rooms.

The spa offers all the usual treatments you'd expect -- Shiatsu, volcanic rocks, reflexology and Balinese massages -- with an emphasis on Balinese techniques. (All the spa staff hail from that Indonesian island.) There is also a "Spa Doctor," offering acupuncture, anti-cellulite/slimming treatments, and face- and neck-lifting treatments. You can also get some hefty discounts if you book more than one treatment, plus free passes to the thermal area.

The Thermal Area has three hot tubs (with lovely views over the side of the ship), two saunas and two steam rooms (all mixed). You can purchase an hour pass for €16, a day pass for €30, a cruise pass for €99 or a two-person cruise pass for €169.

The juice bar serves up various teas, smoothies and alcohol-free cocktails depending on your mood and what color you like, drawn from various herbs and fruits. All incur an extra fee.

There is also a salon attached to the spa, where you can get your hair washed, cut and styled.

Through the spa, taking up the whole of the front of Deck 13, is the well-equipped gym. It has a wide range of running, lifting and pulling equipment, as well as stunning views through the floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. There are no separate rooms for other activities.

You can hire a personal trainer for a variety of activities, and you can book dance lessons or aerobics for €10 per person. Individual yoga classes start at €60 for 60 minutes, or you can join a class of three, six or 10 people for reduced fees.

The Sport Deck on Deck 16 features a tennis court; one deck below is mini-golf, shuffleboard and quoits. The jogging track is on Deck 14, as is another shuffleboard court.

MSC Magnifica For Kids

Kids are very welcome on all MSC ships, with a host of programs and facilities for all age groups. At check-in, each child is given a bracelet to wear throughout the cruise, printed with muster station details and contact information. Kids also travel free across the fleet until the age of 18 when travelling with an adult.

Onboard, kids are divided into four age groups: Mini Club for 3- to 6-years-olds; Juniors Club for 7- to 11-year-olds; Young Club for 12- to 14-year-olds; and Teens Club for 15- to 17-year-olds.

The opening hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on port days. On sea days, the hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

On Magnifica, the kids areas are situated at the aft and midship on Deck 14, and they consist of a number of indoor and outdoor spaces, depending on the age groups. On Magnifica, the theme of the kids area is Underwater World; for the youngest ones, all the play equipment and decor, both inside and out, is of underwater scenes and animals. There are two play areas: one adjacent to the disco for the very small kids, and a second toward the middle that also has a completely enclosed outdoor area -- consisting of a slide, a trampoline and a splash pool -- only accessible via a locked gate.

There is always a full program of activities, which might consist of arts and crafts, games, gymnastics, quizzes, treasure hunts, video games or time at the disco, depending on age group. The youth staff onboard Magnifica are friendly and enthusiastic.

The ship offers numerous kid-friendly culinary choices, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and 24-hour pizza delivery. The buffet area has kids areas. MSC Fun Time Dinners allow children to dine in the buffet restaurant with the entertainment team, and then have fun in the Mini and Junior Clubs while parents enjoy leisurely dinners alone, picking up the kids when they've finished. There are lunch options for kids, as well.

Children can travel from 6 months old and use the children's facilities, but they have to be accompanied at all times by an adult until they're 3 -- old enough for Mini-Club. Games and activities are organized specifically for children younger than 3, including playing with blocks, musical games, baby disco, puzzle games and drawing.

The Kids Around the Clock group babysitting service is available from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. for children of ages 3 to 11.

MSC Magnifica also has a number of family-friendly accommodations, including connecting cabins and eight family suites with bunk beds (see Cabins).

Additional MSC Magnifica Information

MSC Magnifica Details
  • Crew: 1,027
  • Launched: 2010
  • Decks: 16
  • Passengers: 2,518
  • Registry: Panama

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