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Compare MSC to Princess

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How would you compare MSC to Princess?

I have sailed on RCCL, NCL, Celebrity and Princess. I have sailed exclusively on Princess for the past several years. I am thinking about a 7 night western Caribbean cruise on the Meraviglia.

I am curious about Overall ship quality, food, entertainment and any other topics you feel relevant.

Thanks for any advice.

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Comparing apples to oranges...MSC has a lower price point and delivers a good product that can be erratic.  You will be sailing with a much more diverse population as the majority are flying in from Europe and elsewhere.  The new ships are upscale, gorgeous and dazzling The food is more Euro and can be great or can be lackluster.  The entertainment is very good but different from the American counterpart.  The new ships offer Cirque Soleil.  MSC offers The Yacht Club for those who are willing to spend triple the basic cost.  The YC beats anything Princess has to offer...hands down.  The YC features an entire section of the ship with separate pool deck, huge lounge and separate dining room and is all-inclusive.  The level of service in the YC is beyond anything you will find on Princess.

 

Princess offers a great middle of the road product.  Their food is very good...on average.  The Princess buffet is always a notch above the others.  Princess offers good entertainment and nice facilities but none of the upgraded service and facilities that MSC offers.  Princess has a very limited suite experience with no benefits as compared to MSC.  

 

The experience on MSC or Princess is different from each other.  I would say Princess is steady and MSC is a bit of a walk on the wild side and can be erratic.  Princess is an established line and MSC is a work in progress that continually surprises and in some cases disappoints.  

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Posted (edited)

We sailed aboard the Meraviglia in the Mediterranean last November and had an absolutely fantastic time. Easily one of the best cruises we’ve ever taken. She’s a beautiful ship that wows. But I do think that Princess offers an overall more sophisticated and subdued experience than MSC. I place MSC at par with Royal Caribbean. 

 

One thing to keep in mind about sailing on MSC are the different experiences or clases of service. Like with the airlines, the  more you spend, the more perks and better accommodation location you get, so your opinion about MSC will probably be dictated by what experience you select. Using Delta Air Lines’ classes of service for comparison, Bella is like Basic Economy, Fantástica is like Comfort Plus, Aurea is like Premium Select, and Yacht Club is like Delta One. 

 

For our cruise aboard the Meraviglia we opted for an Aurea stateroom, which came with a pretty generous list of perks, including priority embarkation, complimentary beverage package, unlimited access to the thermal area at the spa, two free massages, access to a private solarium deck, and open dining in a reserved section of the MDR. And even though we paid more for the Aurea experience than for a Bella or Fantastica experience, the total cost was in tune with what we would’ve paid on another cruise line without any of those perks, so it was completely worth every single extra dime. Sailing in an Aurea stateroom truly elevated our cruise experience. 

 

As mentioned above, MSC caters heavily to an international clientele, even on sailings out of Miami, so expect fellow cruisers to be more diverse, and for MSC to cater accordingly with multi language announcements, less verbal entertainment, and more international cuisine. Some Americans seem to get really hung up on this and give MSC unfairly low ratings as a result.

 

Hope you have an excellent time on the Meraviglia! 

Edited by Tapi

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29 minutes ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

Comparing apples to oranges...MSC has a lower price point and delivers a good product that can be erratic.  You will be sailing with a much more diverse population as the majority are flying in from Europe and elsewhere.  The new ships are upscale, gorgeous and dazzling The food is more Euro and can be great or can be lackluster.  The entertainment is very good but different from the American counterpart.  The new ships offer Cirque Soleil.  MSC offers The Yacht Club for those who are willing to spend triple the basic cost.  The YC beats anything Princess has to offer...hands down.  The YC features an entire section of the ship with separate pool deck, huge lounge and separate dining room and is all-inclusive.  The level of service in the YC is beyond anything you will find on Princess.

 

Princess offers a great middle of the road product.  Their food is very good...on average.  The Princess buffet is always a notch above the others.  Princess offers good entertainment and nice facilities but none of the upgraded service and facilities that MSC offers.  Princess has a very limited suite experience with no benefits as compared to MSC.  

 

The experience on MSC or Princess is different from each other.  I would say Princess is steady and MSC is a bit of a walk on the wild side and can be erratic.  Princess is an established line and MSC is a work in progress that continually surprises and in some cases disappoints.  

We are on the Meraviglia now crossing the Atlantic.  You comments are right on. We are not yacht club but did book Aurea which gives you access to the spa and a limited drink package.  We are enjoying the cruise overall and are not complainers. However the service is at best erratic and it seems that some employees just dont care.  Some days we get wash cloths and a bathroom floor mat and other days we dont. We have to ask for toilet paper when running low. Others had to beg for a box of Kleenex.   That being said I would try them again in north America to see if the service improves.  

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36 minutes ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

Comparing apples to oranges...MSC has a lower price point and delivers a good product that can be erratic.  You will be sailing with a much more diverse population as the majority are flying in from Europe and elsewhere.  The new ships are upscale, gorgeous and dazzling The food is more Euro and can be great or can be lackluster.  The entertainment is very good but different from the American counterpart.  The new ships offer Cirque Soleil.  MSC offers The Yacht Club for those who are willing to spend triple the basic cost.  The YC beats anything Princess has to offer...hands down.  The YC features an entire section of the ship with separate pool deck, huge lounge and separate dining room and is all-inclusive.  The level of service in the YC is beyond anything you will find on Princess.

 

Princess offers a great middle of the road product.  Their food is very good...on average.  The Princess buffet is always a notch above the others.  Princess offers good entertainment and nice facilities but none of the upgraded service and facilities that MSC offers.  Princess has a very limited suite experience with no benefits as compared to MSC.  

 

The experience on MSC or Princess is different from each other.  I would say Princess is steady and MSC is a bit of a walk on the wild side and can be erratic.  Princess is an established line and MSC is a work in progress that continually surprises and in some cases disappoints.  

The above analysis is excellent! Right on.

We are Black Card on MSC and Elite on Princess (50+ cruisers.) 

Have done 6 MSC cruises past 2 years. 

I could not have done a better job in explaining the differences. 

My recommendation. Try MSC as you should not be disappointed.

Happy CRUISING! 

 

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9 minutes ago, Tapi said:

Using Delta Air Lines’ classes of service for comparison, Bella is like Basic Economy, Fantástica is like Comfort Plus, Aurea is like Premium Select, and Yacht Club is like Delta One. 

Even I have never flown Delta I am not sure if I can agree here. The difference between Bella and Fantastica is extremely limited as the cabins are the same and the perks almost the same. But in Airline language one thing is true of cause, Fantastica brings you more miles aka Voyager points than Bella. 

 

It is also very difficult for me the compare MSC to other lines. As the ships in their fleet are so different. Of cause I agree that the Meravigla is one of the best cruise ships that sails the oceans (for me number one), but you cannot go on the Lirica with the expectations from the Meraviglia. 

 

But I can answer @TwoCruisers that I don´t think there is any boat in the Carribean that is better than the Meraviglia. If you are choosing between the Meraviglia and the Armonia and the Meraviglia costs 20% more, take the Meraviglia. 

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3 minutes ago, perakcruiser said:

Even I have never flown Delta I am not sure if I can agree here. The difference between Bella and Fantastica is extremely limited as the cabins are the same and the perks almost the same.

Same with Basic Economy and Comfort Plus on Delta. Not that much difference between the two classes of service, except for the fact that your accommodation is in a more desirable location, and you may get a little extra perk, but otherwise it’s the same exact type of accommodation. 

 

We’ve done Fantastica and Aurea on MSC. The only reason why we chose Fantastica over Bella was because of cabin location (otherwise our cabin would’ve been above a music lounge). But with Aurea is where the real perks kick in. 

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6 minutes ago, Tapi said:

Same with Basic Economy and Comfort Plus on Delta. Not that much difference between the two classes of service, except for the fact that your accommodation is in a more desirable location, and you may get a little extra perk, but otherwise it’s the same exact type of accommodation. 

Ah OK, than please forget everything I said, "Comfort Plus" sounded like much bigger seats with more legroom to me ;)

 

7 minutes ago, Tapi said:

We’ve done Fantastica and Aurea on MSC. The only reason why we chose Fantastica over Bella was because of cabin location (otherwise our cabin would’ve been above a music lounge). But with Aurea is where the real perks kick in. 

Yes, Aurea makes the big difference. But for late bookers usually there is no choice anyway, because all Bella long gone. Anyway, the price difference between Bella and Fantastica is so small, with the free photo and the higher decks alone you are not making a bad deal, even if you don´t care for the Voyager points.

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1 hour ago, CarolR said:

We are on the Meraviglia now crossing the Atlantic.  You comments are right on. We are not yacht club but did book Aurea which gives you access to the spa and a limited drink package.  We are enjoying the cruise overall and are not complainers. However the service is at best erratic and it seems that some employees just dont care.  Some days we get wash cloths and a bathroom floor mat and other days we dont. We have to ask for toilet paper when running low. Others had to beg for a box of Kleenex.   That being said I would try them again in north America to see if the service improves.  

 

Sometimes it's the little things that can make all the difference.

 

We have just returned from our first MSC cruise (in Europe) and found that the difference between the cruise line and others is in the service - or lack thereof. Where other lines encourage the cabin attendants to introduce themselves shortly after the passengers arrive, on MSC we only met our steward on the fourth day, and only by chance. When our toilet paper was about to run out - with no extra roll tucked away in the cabinet - we were left to fend for ourselves, as no member of the housekeeping staff could be located, and our phone calls went unanswered. I can vouch for the lack of kleenex in at least three cabins (we were traveling with friends); I don't remember seeing any tissues on the service carts, so I can only assume that management considers paper products as a luxury item that can be discontinued. 

 

That said, most of the staff members we met were receptive when we attempted to speak to them, but very few seemed to be happy. I contrast that with the crew on other cruise lines whose demeanor is generally pleasant, sometimes bubbly, and who are eager to provide their guests with a memorable (in a good sense) experience . It is up to management to set the tone - and IMHO, therein lies the difference between MSC and its competitors.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

Princess offers good entertainment and nice facilities but none of the upgraded service and facilities that MSC offers.

remember, MSC offers upgraded service only in YC class. If you are a mere mortal in a non-YC cabin, you will get a lot less service on MSC than on Princess.

That said, we are trying MSC next April. Only because it was a bit cheaper than Princess and Princess keeps sailing to the same old destinations during the 2 times a year we can actually cruise, while this particular MSC Meraviglia cruise will take us to slightly more exciting locations for a little less money.

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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11 minutes ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

remember, MSC offers upgraded service only in YC class. If you are a mere mortal in a non-YC cabin, you will get a lot less service on MSC than on Princess.

That said, we are trying MSC next April. Only because it was a bit cheaper than Princess and Princess keeps sailing to the same old destinations during the 2 times a year we can actually cruise, while this particular MSC Meraviglia cruise will take us to slightly more exciting locations for a little less money.

Agreed. Most of us are not sailing yacht club so to compare that with a regular princess cabin is not realistic. General service on princess is far and above what we've experienced on MSC so far.  Apparently asking for coffee with dessert is an issue and they outright refused to bring me a cappuccino saying it would take too long. If you're not aurea or do not have a drink package you pay for bottled water with dinner. Cruise may be cheaper but you're going to pay one way or another.  However I would try them again in north America 

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Thank you all for the wonderful information you provided. I did find the experiences on the MSC web site a little confusing since this is different from the other cruise lines I have been on. I am going to do a little more research before deciding on the cruise.

As always I love Cruise Critic because of the wonderful and helpful people here.

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4 minutes ago, CarolR said:

If you're not aurea or do not have a drink package you pay for bottled water with dinner.

apparently, on Caribbean cruises out of POM there is a pitcher of water available in MDR just like on other cruises.

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2 hours ago, daisy-mae said:

We have just returned from our first MSC cruise (in Europe) and found that the difference between the cruise line and others is in the service - or lack thereof. Where other lines encourage the cabin attendants to introduce themselves shortly after the passengers arrive, on MSC we only met our steward on the fourth day, and only by chance.

This is the old problem, you expect personal treatment, the Europeans (and Asians) expect "do your job, be invisible". I don´t think that any Non-American cruise line encourages this, definitely not in Europa or East Asia. 

 

And yes, also many would think it is very rude to annoy a superbusy waiter at dinner to go to the next cafe and bring a cappuccino. But for Americans this is totally OK, these are the differences. 

 

For many US cruisers MSC (or any non-US cruise line) is not a good choice, but for some it is great. Just try, they are much cheaper than others and also have lower additional costs on board. 

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6 minutes ago, perakcruiser said:

This is the old problem, you expect personal treatment, the Europeans (and Asians) expect "do your job, be invisible". I don´t think that any Non-American cruise line encourages this, definitely not in Europa or East Asia. 

 

And yes, also many would think it is very rude to annoy a superbusy waiter at dinner to go to the next cafe and bring a cappuccino. But for Americans this is totally OK, these are the differences. 

 

For many US cruisers MSC (or any non-US cruise line) is not a good choice, but for some it is great. Just try, they are much cheaper than others and also have lower additional costs on board. 

 

 

Just for the record, although I live in North America, I am a Canadian -- and not a terribly demanding one at that. 😉

 

In terms of "personal treatment", we did not expect our cabin steward to be at our every beck and call; however, it would have been nice to know who to contact for a basic necessity.

 

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4 minutes ago, perakcruiser said:

This is the old problem, you expect personal treatment, the Europeans (and Asians) expect "do your job, be invisible"

may not necessarily be true.  I do expect good service, but not invisibility. How can I get answers or request something if I never see anyone? On NCL I had to ask another cabin attendant all sorts of questions, because he was always present, but I only saw our own attendant twice in the entire week for about 5 seconds. My mom's cabin was on a different floor, and her attendant was superb, always present and made her happy. And that's considering that my mom doesn't even speak English.

 

Waiters in MDR on Princess were wonderful - after the first night, as soon as we sat down there they already brought out the chamomile tea with honey. And that was any time dining - they get different customers every night, but we kept requesting this particular table, because both the waiter and the asst were great.

 

Just because Europeans don't expect anything doesn't mean that MSC doesn't need to step up when it tries to break in to the US market. Low prices only get you so far.

 

Oh, and we are Americans of European origin.

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1 hour ago, perakcruiser said:

This is the old problem, you expect personal treatment, the Europeans (and Asians) expect "do your job, be invisible". I don´t think that any Non-American cruise line encourages this, definitely not in Europa or East Asia. 

 

And yes, also many would think it is very rude to annoy a superbusy waiter at dinner to go to the next cafe and bring a cappuccino. But for Americans this is totally OK, these are the differences. 

 

For many US cruisers MSC (or any non-US cruise line) is not a good choice, but for some it is great. Just try, they are much cheaper than others and also have lower additional costs on board. 

Asking for a cappuccino with dessert is not rude. I would think it is part of the service we paid for. 

 

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27 minutes ago, CarolR said:

Asking for a cappuccino with dessert is not rude. I would think it is part of the service we paid for. 

 

on Princess coffee and fancy coffee drinks are on the MDR dinner dessert menu. So, why not ask for one with your dessert? 

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We haven't been on the Mereviglia, but here are some of my observations just comparing line to line.  First, let me say we are "Elite" on Princess and with the match, "Black" on MSC.  Feb 2020 will be our 4th time on the MSC Divina. 2 yrs ago we took the Caribbean Princess in early Jan and we had a Jr Suite.  2 weeks later, we sailed on the Divina in a standard balcony cabin.  On the Divina our cabin was bigger, nicer, better laid out and our balcony was WAY bigger.  MDR food and service were pretty much comparable.  Buffet was better on Divina and thier pizza is the best at sea.  Entertainment was WAY better on the Divina.  Pools were nicer on the DIvina 1 is adults only, 1 is under a retractable dome which was very nice in inclement weather.  On the CP the canned music around the pool area was SOOOOOO loud, you had to scream at the person sitting next to you.  We went to "the other"pool" and you could still hear the music from the main pool area.  And to add insult to injury it was all rap and hip-hop.  Not at all catering to the demographics on board. There was music and dancing in at least 3 lounges every evening both before and after dinner, plus the disco on the Divina. No pre-dinner dancing on the CP and dancing only in one lounge after dinner.  On both cruises, we did not have a drinks package and beverages were at least 20% less $$$ on MSC.  MSC does the best M&G for CC folks, and  top staff and officers are much more engaging.  All and all....we liked our cruise on the Divina more and overall, we had a better experience on our MSC cruise than on P,  and that's why we sailed on it this past winter season and will again in winter 2020.  Again, this is only a comparison between one ship on one line and one on the other.  As both cruises were just 2 weeks apart and memories of the 1st still very fresh in my mind, it was easy to make observations and compare the two..

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8 hours ago, CarolR said:

Asking for a cappuccino with dessert is not rude. I would think it is part of the service we paid for. 

 

Ah but that isn't Italian 😉!  Cappuccino is a breakfast or morning coffee break drink and definitely not served after dinner!  We are on our first MSC cruise in January but we lived in Italy for 5 years in the 1970s and 1980s.  This was my husband's reaction, not mine since I don't drink coffee.

 

I told him that we should have no problem on MSC even though we are elite on Princess and accustomed to their offerings.

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7 hours ago, capriccio said:

Ah but that isn't Italian 😉!  Cappuccino is a breakfast or morning coffee break drink and definitely not served after dinner!  We are on our first MSC cruise in January but we lived in Italy for 5 years in the 1970s and 1980s.  This was my husband's reaction, not mine since I don't drink coffee.

 

I told him that we should have no problem on MSC even though we are elite on Princess and accustomed to their offerings.

As I am Canadian of Italian heritage I do know that cappuccino is a breakfast drink however we happen to enjoy it with dessert.  We tried to order regular coffee for the next few nights and it caused so much confusion that we gave up the ghost and headed up to the buffet for a cup of coffee. 

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54 minutes ago, CarolR said:

We tried to order regular coffee for the next few nights and it caused so much confusion that we gave up the ghost and headed up to the buffet for a cup of coffee. 

Well, the confusion is that other passengers need to wait 15 minutes for their desserts, because the waiter is away to pick up a cappuccino from the next coffee bar for you. 

 

I have to admit that one time I also asked to get one - yes, I know, only Espresso is allowed after dinner, but I am not Italian and have no Italian heritage ☺️  - the waiter told me no coffee available, he would need to go to the San Marco Cafe to get one. So I went there and picked it up by myself. Would be nice if MSC would offer coffee in the MDR, but only if it not slows down the menu serving. We have two kids, waiting for dessert is not the biggest strength ☢️

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As Marco pointed out...the music around the pool on Princess is so loud you can’t hear anything else.  That is one of the main reasons that I will not sail on P.

 

Here is the problem of Princess vs MSC.  Princess is an established line with a long history going back 50 years.  P has had many years to build and train a labor force.  MSC, on the other hand, has just built its fleet with four recent ships ar 135,000 tons and 4 new ships at 165,000 tons.  The labor force coming on those ships are new to service and need to be trained...even the managers need to be trained.  The numbers are staggering.  Just the eight new ships require more than 18,000 active personnel with an additional 10,000 resting onshore...approximately.  All these people need to be trained.  All of them receive English lessons along with their training.  I would estimate that MSC service will catch up to Princess in two years or so.  I also predict that MSC will continue to improve its food as it expands their fleet.  

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CarolR said:

As I am Canadian of Italian heritage I do know that cappuccino is a breakfast drink however we happen to enjoy it with dessert.  We tried to order regular coffee for the next few nights and it caused so much confusion that we gave up the ghost and headed up to the buffet for a cup of coffee. 

on all the cruises my DH gets a couple of cups of regular coffee, and we've never had any trouble getting it. We'll see how that works on MSC.

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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1 hour ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

Here is the problem of Princess vs MSC.  Princess is an established line with a long history going back 50 years.  P has had many years to build and train a labor force.  

you know, all  of the 30-40 year old waiters and cabin attendants haven't been working for Princess for 50 years... They are all on 6-12 months contracts. Some only work for a couple of years.

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