The 934-capacity Odeon Theater is the ship's main theater and is located at the front of the ship on Decks 6 and 7. It's a grand space, with modern seating and good eye-lines. MSC has come a long way since some questionable entertainment (comedians telling jokes in six languages, subpar revue-type shows), and it's clear they have spent a lot of time, money and effort to ensure these shows compete with the best at sea. While we wouldn't go as far as to say they are up there with the Broadway shows shown on some major lines, they have certainly raised their game with a dizzying array of Cirque-style color and acrobatics, fine singers and entertainers. The hard-working troupe put on three (yes three) shows a night to cater for three meal times; these might include a musical tribute, a French revue-style show (think Moulin Rouge) or an Italian-themed musical show. Additionally, there is late-night adult comedy and opera. Note you are required to reserve spots for the shows (there is no fee), which is more for crowd control. During the day, this is the spot for port talks and to gather for ship-organized shore excursions.
There are a multitude of events that take place throughout the day onboard, starting with fitness classes in the gym in the morning, dance classes, audience-participation games and bingo (all in the Haven Lounge), shopping promotions, aerobics, foosball tournaments, ping pong tournaments and trivia. These change daily, so consult your Daily Program.
You'll also find fun pool parties, especially on sea days, around the main Panorama Pool, during which the animation team (i.e., the cruise director's entertainment team) encourage passengers to participate.
The ship also has a large amusement arcade, but note -- fun comes with a price. You are best off getting a Fun Pass, which offers a set amount of onboard credit for gaming, rather than paying as you go, as the cost can mount up rather quickly. There are two bowling lanes, a wide range of arcade games, an F1 race car simulator, an interactive cinema with three different movie games and an air hockey table. On the opposite side of the ship is a small Billiards Room/library. The prices are sky high: 10 euros for 15 minutes of pool, 10 euros for one round on the F1 simulator, 10 euros for the 4D cinema and 40 euros an hour for bowling.
The main area for live music is the triple-deck atrium where a live band plays every night from a recessed stage above the bar.
There's plenty of live music elsewhere on the ship, including the Haven Lounge, the Shine Bar and the Seaside Lounge; as well as by both main pools.
The Platinum Casino takes up a large chunk of real estate on Deck 7, and you'll find yourself having to walk through it to get from one end of the ship to another. There are 147 slot machines and 12 gaming tables for roulette, poker and blackjack; as well as electronic gaming. There are daily events and promotions such as Lotto and free chips -- check your Daily Program for details. There is a central bar in the casino showing sporting events. Worth noting: MSC allows smoking in here for gamblers, but thanks to an advanced ventilation system, the odor does not permeate the ship.
Seaview Bar (Deck 5): The main atrium bar runs in a semicircle around the lower deck of the triple-height space. It’s on the same level as guest services and reception, so it's constantly buzzing morning, noon and night. It's primarily a sit-up bar, to grab a coffee in the morning or sip a cocktail before dinner, but there are plenty of chairs and tables all around the atrium. It's a great space to while away some time, surrounded as you are by the dramatic space of the atrium, the Swarovski crystal staircases ascending vertiginously above you, live music every evening from the stage directly above and the constant coming and going of ship life.
Shine Bar (Deck 6): This spot is just near the indoor Venchi and has chairs ranged around a small stage for live music.
Champagne Bar (Deck 7): The classiest bar onboard, Champagne Bar is in a prime spot overlooking the main atrium and opposite where nightly performances take place. There are stools at the bar, plus plenty of chairs and tables around the wide space with attentive table service. It gets crowded in the evening before and after dinner.
Haven Lounge (Deck 7): The Haven Lounge is a large space toward the aft of the ship, directly above the main restaurant. There is a bar at one end, a stage and a dance floor in the center, with plenty of chairs and tables dotted around, as well as some high tables against the walls with barstools, rather than chairs. This is always lively in the evenings, with live music, dancing and dance classes taking place till late. It adjoins the Billiards Room and leads out to the Sunset Beach Bar. During the day, there are games, auctions and early morning exercise classes.
Sunset Beach Bar (Deck 7): This outdoor spot at the aft of the ship serves the Sunset Beach Pool. The bar is on the starboard (right hand) side of the ship, but there is seating on both sides of the ship (note the smoking area is on the bar side). The long bar is crowded from around 5 p.m., but table service is quick and efficient. There's always lots going on here throughout the day, from early risers enjoying a quiet espresso, to the constant flow of people using the pool throughout the day to those enjoying a sundowner before dinner. On most evenings, you'll find a DJ set up, providing sounds for a Miami-style beach party.
Garage Club (Deck 7): You'll find this 1950's diner-themed area adjoining the amusement arcade. It includes a bar, dance floor, jukebox, neon signage, vintage Gulf gas pump, high-top tables with chairs and a classic car that serves as a DJ booth. At night, it becomes the ship's disco and has no set closing time, which means it stays open until everyone leaves, which is sometime in the early hours whether the ship is in Brazil or the Mediterranean.
Seaside Lounge (Deck 8): Our favorite spot to get away from it all, this is a great space during the day to grab a coffee (for a fee) and a pastry (for free) and enjoy some quiet time. There are plenty of sofas, plush chairs and low tables where you can read, undisturbed. There is a stage at one end and in the evening, it transforms into an intimate jazz venue. It's a lovely spot for a pre-dinner drink, but note that it is often booked for private events. This bar has access to the outdoor deck with seating and a small smoking area. You'll also spot a little room labeled "Broadcasting Room" -- you can't go in here, but you can observe the technicians coordinating all the high-tech entertainment on the ship's big screens.
Sports Bar (Deck 8): This is not quite the type of sports bar you might expect on an American ship -- think of it as a sports bar with a stylish European twist. So as well as a sit-up bar with screens above showing sports fixtures from around the world and large screens, you'll also find private booths with their own TV set and beanbags scattered around in a cute football design and the whole space is fitted out in chrome and glass.
There's a wide range of international beers: 12 different types of draft beer, craft beers, stout ale and ciders; as well as bottles and cans. Karaoke also takes place here. There is very limited snacking, but you can grab some buffalo chicken wings to soak up those beers. The bar has direct access onto the promenade deck.
Panorama Bar (Deck 16): This is the main pool bar, serving frozen cocktails, beer and wines throughout the day.
Yacht Club Bar & Lounge (Deck 18): This beautiful space, only open to Yacht Club passengers, features a large bar, plenty of seating and double-height glass windows looking out at the front of the ship. There are snacks available here throughout the day and waiter service.
Jungle Beach Bar (Deck 18): Located within the solarium, this bar serves the indoor/outdoor Jungle Beach pool area.
Aurea Bar (Deck 18): This is a private bar, only open to passengers who have booked the Aurea experience. It services the Top 19 Exclusive Solarium.
Miramar Bar (Deck 18): In a prime spot high on the ship overlooking the main pool area, but somewhat calmer and quieter than the Panorama Bar.
Yacht Club Bar (Deck 18): Only open to Yacht Club passengers, this top deck bar services the private sun deck.
Seaview has three main pools, two outside and one covered by a retractable magrodome roof, as well as a fourth, private pool for Yacht Club passengers only.
The Panorama Pool is on Deck 16 toward the aft of the ship. It consists of a main pool with a raised dais in the center where the crew host sail-away and sea day parties. There's a large screen showing movies and music videos. In fine weather, it's always busy up here and although southern Mediterraneans are not chair hogs, you will still struggle to find a spare deck chair on a sea day. There are three hot tubs, as well as the glass-bottomed Bridge of Sighs platform. The Panorama Bar and Marketplace Buffet are nearby, too.
The Sunset Beach Pool is on Deck 7 aft, and is more of an adults-only pool (16 and older). It's in a great spot overlooking the wake and directly below the Miami-style condo apartments and glass elevators. Ice cream and crepes are available from the Venchi Gelateria and Creperie, while drinks can be had at the Sunset Beach Bar. The pool is not very big and there are a limited number of loungers available. Smoking is allowed on the right side of this area.
The Jungle Pool is the ship's solarium and can be covered by a retractable magrodome roof in inclement weather. It has two raised whirlpools on either side and a bar area. There's also a lounge area adjacent with fun, colorful chairs, foosball and Ping-Pong tables.
The MSC Yacht Club Pool on Deck 19 is for Yacht Club guests only. It's small and salt water, oddly. There are two hot tubs at the other end of the sun deck. There's a bar and grill nearby, as well as a juice and ice cream bar.
MSC Seaview has an outdoor sports court -- the Sports Arena -- high up on Deck 20 where you can play soccer and basketball, among other sports. Tournaments take place here and the kids club will often use it for games and competitions during the day.
Seaview also has a dedicated water park -- Forest Aquaventure Park -- on Deck 18, which is slotted in just behind the funnel and adjacent to the kids club (you can access it from the kids' club). For the younger passengers, there is a wading pool area with water cannons and fountains, as well as a climbing area, which consists of a rope bridge suspended over the park. For the older kids and adults, there are four water slides: a standard water slide, two "racing" slides and a slide for slideboarding, where passengers use their boards to select colors that light up inside the slide as they glide through it.
Above here are the ziplines -- the joint-longest (with Seaside) at sea. The lines start on Deck 20 and take passengers over the sports court and Panorama Beach Pool area before ending up on Deck 18. The cost is 10 euros.
If you've got a head for heights, try out the glass-floor Bridge of Sighs, which is set right at the back of the ship, nine decks above the Sunset Beach Pool and which makes for great photos.
The main sun deck is the Panorama Sun Deck, which includes the Panorama pool area and leads to the back of the ship, near a pair of hot tubs and the Bridge of Sighs.
The adults-only Sunset Beach Pool also has a small sunbathing area at the aft with a small number of lounge chairs.
The Top 19 Exclusive Solarium is a space on Deck 19 reserved for Aurea experience and Yacht Club passengers only. There's a dedicated bar, as well as waiter service.
The Yacht Club's sun deck space is never crowded -- even when the ship is sailing full. It's a large space with plenty of deck chairs for sunbathing. For-fee cabanas are also available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of €30 each. Aluminium sunbeds are also available for €15.
The reception, guest services and future cruise sales desks are all situated in the main atrium on Deck 5; Shore Excursions is on the deck above. The Art Gallery is also on Deck 5, as is the Photo Gallery, which has been renamed "Immersions," and is a high-tech take on the traditional Photo Gallery, completely digitized with self-service booths to print your own photos.
You'll find the majority of the shops just off the main atrium on Decks 6 to 8, including a logo shop, boutique, watch shop, jewelry, perfumes, cosmetics and accessories. There's even a mini-mall with technology, toys, games and confectionary on Deck 6. There is also a small conference room here, tucked away behind Venchi.
The library is in the Billiards Room. There is a selection of multi-language books.
Wi-Fi packages are not cheap, but they are fast and you can buy them for the entirety of the cruise, which means not having to worry about logging in and out the whole time. The cost is 99.90 euros for a weeklong sailing.
The Aurea spa is outstanding -- and huge -- a whopping 26,000 square foot, taking up most of the front of the ship on Deck 8. In keeping with the other spas on MSC, it is Balinese-themed with an army of body therapists waiting to greet you at the entrance. There are 23 treatment rooms, including one for couples, as well as four private outdoor cabana areas with access to a private hot tub (hire without treatment is 40 euros for two hours).
Treatments do not come cheap -- at the higher end of cruise ship spa pricing, and don't forget that stinging 18 percent service fee on top. Expect to pay around 120 euros for a 50-minute Balinese massage (plus the service), rising to 195 euros for a 75-minute Bali Thalasso Sea Massage. Introduced on sister ship, Seaside, you may also be tempted to try a bit of "vinotherapy" derived from the natural extracts from Boccelli wines and blended with Tuscan plants. The unique treatments and Lajatica products were developed in conjunction with Andrea Boccelli's brother, Alberto, who runs the family vineyard in Tuscany.
Look out for port day daily specials and buy one-and-get-a-discount-on-the-second-third-fourth-etc. treatments, which run throughout the cruise. Note there is also a doctor in residence who can consult on medispa treatments like Botox and filler treatments.
The spa complex also includes a superb thermal suite with the following: a snow room, a thalassotherapy pool, two steam rooms (one dark, one light), two saunas, a Himalayan salt room, an aromatherapy room, a Hamman, a relaxation room and an outdoor hot tub. The thermal suite costs $60 per person or $90 per couple for a daily pass, or $340 per person or $510 per couple for a cruise-long pass. It sounds expensive, but it is worth it if you think you'll spend lots of time there.
The spa also comprises a beauty salon from renowned French coiffeur Jean Louis David, where hair, manis and pedis are all on offer; there is also a gentleman's barber shop next door.
There are separate men's and women's changing areas where you get your own locker. There are also showers and toilets and plenty of towels, but note: Bring your own robe (you can find one in your in-cabin wardrobe).
The spa is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The gym is adjacent to the spa, but not entered through it (as you'll find on some ships), so you won't find towel-clad passengers getting in your way as you try and work out.
MSC claim this (along with Seaside) is the largest gym at sea, and at 9,300 square feet, it may very well be. It looks and feels huge, packed with brand-new, state-of-the-art Technogym equipment. Treadmills, rowers and bikes (recumbent and sit up), all face the windows and offer lovely views out to sea. There is a room dedicated to group cycling at one side and another for classes such as yoga and Pilates on the other.
Against the walls you'll find a whole array of weights and exercise mats, and plenty of private space to do your own thing. There is also a punching bag and a number of weight machines.
Classes are all 11 euros and include Transform (yoga and stretching), Revolution (spin), Power step (athletics) and War (martial arts meets EDM). Personal training is also available for a fee.
Just off the gym are separate men's and women's locker rooms with showers, changing areas, lockers and toilets, as well as separate saunas. Towels and a wall-mounted hair dryer are provided in each.
The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. From 13 to 15 years of age, children must be accompanied by an adult and sign a waiver. From 16 to 17 years of age, children can use the gym on their own, with the signed waiver.
There is not a proper jogging track, but once around the Promenade Deck 8 is about a third of a mile.
As with the line's two previous ships -- MSC Meraviglia and sister ship MSC Seaview, the line has seriously upped its game in terms of its family offering, and we are confident in saying that in terms of facilities and programming it's up there with best at sea.
Seaview has an outstanding kids club, with age-specific rooms including a baby room for the under-3s and teen facilities. The programming is extensive and creative and strikes a nice balance between family time and kids-only time, allowing weary parents plenty of time off, should they want it.
There are a number of family-friendly cabins, with bunk beds, more storage space and large balconies, as well as family cluster cabins, which join a number of cabins together (see Cabins).
There are no in-cabin babysitting options, but there is an after-hours babysitting service in the kids club from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. at 6 euros/hour or 10 euros/night.
Unlike many cruise lines, there is no recommended minimum sail age (we saw parents with babies as young as 3 months on our sailing), but note you can't drop off in the Baby Club if your child is less than a year old. You cannot preorder baby food or diapers, but thanks to the line's link-up with baby product specialist Chicco, there are always lots of diapers available if you run short.
Kids need to be potty trained to use the swimming areas.
You'll find the kids club, Doremi Land (named after one of the line's numerous mascots), high up on Deck 18, toward the back of the ship. It consists of four age-specific rooms -- Baby Club (0–3 years); Mini Club (3–6 years), Junior Club (7–11) and Young Club (12–14). The older teens (15–17) also get a separate room, though this is often combined with the Young Club.
There is also the wonderful Doremi Studio, which is a large, open space where all the kids can congregate for movie nights and theme nights like superheroes or Halloween Night. It also doubles as a casting room, where a green screen allows kids to actually audition for a part in MSC's own web series "Kelly & Kloe."
Other activities include a once-per-cruise parade of the under 11s that ends in the main theater where they dance onstage to a song from Kids United while mum and dad watch.
MSC has a link-up with LEGO, and all the rooms (bar the Baby Club) are LEGO-themed and have a vast abundance of bricks to play with, as well as inspiring LEGO sculptures and a LEGO wall.
Kids aged up to 6 years get a red bracelet upon registration with a barcode that stores details of the child (date of embarkation, age, allergies, etc.). They are not allowed to come and go from the club without a parent or guardian present.
The 7- to 11-year-olds get a green bracelet, which means parents can decide if they are allowed in and out without being signed out. Tweens and teens come and go as they please.
Doremi Land is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with breaks for lunch (noon to 1 p.m.) and dinner (8 to 9 p.m.) on most days. The exceptions are its two major embarkation ports of Barcelona, where it opens at 1 p.m., and Genoa, where it opens at 6 p.m. Note, however, there is always someone at reception to answer any queries and also there is always one room open for stay and play (adult accompanied). Lunch is available every day (except those previously noted exceptions), and dinner every evening. There is a pizza party and a hamburger party and at the end of the cruise a Happy Day party to celebrate the kids who have had a birthday onboard (they also get a gift). MSC also has an option called Fun Time Dinner, where someone from the team will pick up your kid(s) after 30 or 45 minutes at dinner with you -- and take them to the kids club.
Parents can leave their children in the kids club all day if they choose and can also go on shore excursions, leaving their kids onboard (Note: If your shore ex leaves before 9 a.m. the kids club will open up 15 minutes before you are scheduled to leave with one day prior warning.)
The Baby Club (0–3 years) is a lovely space with lots of soft play areas and age-appropriate toys, natural light and cots for naps. You can stay and play from any age, but your baby has to be 12 months for drop-off (there are trained professionals with certificates who are allowed to do diaper changes). Note if your child is not fully potty trained at older than 3-years-old, you can leave him or her here, depending on space.
The main theme at the Mini Club (3–6 years) is LEGO, in fact it's everywhere -- in huge round fixed boxes dotted around the room, with boards on which to build, as well as a LEGO wall. There are also age-appropriate video games available including Mario Kart, Just Dance and Nintendo Switch; foosball and a large soft play area in the shape of a ship. In terms of activities, there are arts and crafts, painting and drawing. Every morning there is some sort of outdoor game organized (soccer, basketball), which takes place at the Sports Center. If the weather is poor, these will take place inside. The kids will also take part in scavenger hunts around the ship, dressing up games and theme nights. Once a cruise, this age group (and the one above) will also take part in a dress up/dance competition in the main atrium (which is unbearably cute to watch), joined by one of the line's numerous mascots.
The Junior Club (7–11 years) is another room in bright, primary LEGO colors and full of natural light from huge porthole-shape windows. There are numerous LEGO play areas, a LEGO wall and a sculpture of a LEGO monkey climbing a LEGO palm tree to fire kids' imaginations. One wall has a bank of computer screens, including two for age-appropriate gaming, both competitive and individual. There is even a 4D printer. Other activities including trivia, board games, arts and crafts and a foosball table. Like the younger kids, this age group will also dress up, take part in themed parades and have organized outdoor activities including sports tournaments at the Sports Center. In high season, this age group also get a trip to the Forest Aquaventure Park. Once a cruise, MSC organizes a "MasterChef at Sea" event specifically for this age group that takes place in the Haven Lounge.
Although kids aged 12 and older are within the kids club area on Deck 18, the approach is completely different from the younger kids. For a start, they can come and go as they please. Programming starts much later in the day and there is only one kids' counselor (two in high season), who is there primarily to keep an eye on things rather than organize.
There are no teen-only shore excursions; the only teen-oriented activity is the disco, which takes place every night in the Garage.
Although the Young Club's 12 to 14 set is a defined age group with its own separate room, most of the time this age group and the older teens mix together. Only in high season, with a lot of kids onboard are the two ages be separated.
This group can come and go as they please, and there is plenty on offer, but it's light touch and starts much later in the day, usually in the late afternoon or early evening, except on sea days when it starts at 10 a.m. Activities might include trivia, gaming, board games, and pool (there is a small pool table) and movie nights, as well as sports competitions at the Sports Centre, a trip to the 4D Theater in the Arcade and scavenger hunts around the ship. The room also has an interactive table called The Hub, where you can post selfies, program music and leave thoughts about your cruise. The large porthole windows have seat cushions, so kids can lie in these.
Teens (15–17) have a separate room, actually much smaller than the younger age group, so usually the two ages mix and use the facilities in both. This also has board games and foosball, and a door leads straight out to the aqua park. Activities include sports competitions, plus the teens can use the water slides (which the younger kids cannot); and every night is disco night in the Garage disco a few decks below.