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How does P&O compare to MSC?

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Hi Everyone,

We have so far only been on two cruises, but we have another booked for July next year. Our first was on P&O Ventura, second was May this year on Azura and the next one is back on Ventura July 2020. I am considering the possibility of booking another with MSC, but I wondered if anyone could give me some honest feedback comparing the two cruise lines MSC and P&O.

Also, if booking with MSC, can you book direct with them, which is what I do with P&O. Or should I go through a travel agent?

Any help would be much appreciated.

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More bling on MSC.  More public space.  More entertainment, though lots of it is music duos etc. Theatre shows based on music/acrobatics/dance/opera.  30ish minutes only

Usually a bit cheaper than P&O

Multinational crew and passengers

Incredibly clean and sparkly.  Always amazes me - cleaning, tidying going on all day

From Southampton it’s likely you’ll be on a ‘bus route’ with a %age of pax joining/leaving at most ports

Food ‘different’.  Some great; some not so.  

Waiting staff not to same standard as P&O (in my experience)

Fixed dining only - unless you book a costly upgrade.

Look at the various beverage etc packages - some give good value

Can book direct - have found their IT etc just as/more frustrating than P&O (can you believe it?)

Their shoreside and onboard organisation is much as you would expect an Italian company 🙄

There’s lots I like, lots that’s annoying - probably like the majority of cruise lines at the same price point


Ive no doubt forgotten lots - happy to try to answer any specific questions and I’ll come back if I think of anything important 


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That was very informative, so thank you very much for that eddie11.

Just another quick question, may I ask how many times you have cruised with MSC and how many times with P&O? It sounds as though you have done lots with both.

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2 ex Soton

1 fly cruise ex Tenerife

1 ‘grand voyage’ ex Durban (23? days onboard, back to Venice)


P&O - lots







“We’ve been around” 🙄



Oh, an extra thought.  The only time, in all our cruising career, that we have needed the medical facilities was me, on an MSC cruise with a dental abscess (ouch).  Can vouch for good treatment, sufficient to get me home, and ‘sensible’ prices, picked up by insurance, of course.

Edited by eddie11
Extra thought

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I am following this with interest as would like more info on comparisons with MSC too please.  We have recently cruised exclusively with P&O due to finding it a good deal with young children (currently aged 3 & 4) after enjoying a number of lines pre-kids.  Have heard lots of good things about MSC for families and like large, glitzy ships.  We have Ventura ex Southampton booked again for next year but trying to work out whether to "jump ship" to MSC the year after.  Kids will be older and we won't need a buggy and all the extra toddler stuff by then, so flying will be much easier again.  Any feedback/suggestions gratefully received.  Thanks.

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I've done one cruise with MSC, about 7 years ago, which I enjoyed, Though I don't have any children of my own, from what I saw it looked as though they were very good with the children, who seemed to be having a great time.

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Haven’t travelled with children either, I’m afraid.

They have children’s clubs, of course, and from the brief glimpses I saw, all looked good.  Multilingual, which must be great for the kids?  

We saw the ‘kids club’ being taken to the theatre by the kids club staff to watch the early shows and they (kids) were all very good, older keeping an eye on younger etc


One aspect I didn’t cover before is how much better the ‘buffet’ is on MSC.  Infinite choice, it seems, wonderful pizza (of course; it’s Italian) not overcrowded, not clattery, great fruit and salad bars, bell-push on each table to summon bar staff etc.  


And a big minus - no fruit juice at breakfast (unless you pay).  Just squash-type watery stuff.  The grapefruit is ok


Have a look at the MSC boards here but make sure you only look at Brits talking about their experiences, not the US folk on Seaside etc, sailing ex US , who have different expectations and probably different experiences?  You may pick up more there

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We traveled on  MSC with children and all I can say is the kids clubs and activities as well as the staff were fantastic.  I would not hesitate to recommend them.  Our grandchildren loved going to each session available to them and even wanted to sign up for the kids club dinner most evenings.  The club was not flashy with gadgets and toys it was more activities and games in the traditional style with lots of staff involvement.  We also took part in the pizza making session which was fun if a little messy by the end of the session and the family team games event with the kids club.

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I have done one cruise with MSC and several with P and O.  I cannot think of one thing I preferred about MSC.  I did not dislike MSC though.  


To me they are like NCL, nothing bad but just not that good.  MSC are very US and or international. This apparently is part of a plan for world domination (of the cruise business).  I was hoping for a more Italian experience.  I have enjoyed French and Spanish cruise lines in the past. MSC will match status with other cruise lines and hotel Loyalty schemes which is a plus. 

With a non UK based line I am always tempted to book with an agent. They can deal with the language difficulties with head office. I learnt this with Ponant. There UK phone number goes to Marseille and I had to ring several times until I got by chance a superb English speaker. 


Best wishes, Stephen. 



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I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has posted insights and tips to answer my original post. It certainly has opened my eyes a bit wider. In June this year I was debating whether to book P&O or MSc on Preziosa. I did actually decide on P&O Ventura in the end and this cruise is for July 2020. Long time to wait but hey ho!

My main reason for my decision in the end, was because of all the negative posts I had been reading about the Preziosa. I have since learnt that making a decision based purely on negative comments is not the way to go. There are far too many people that find it really easy to find all the negatives and those people rarely give any positive feedback.

Whenever I write any reviews, I always try to give honest and factual information because I believe that this gives people a more balanced view looking at it through my eyes.

The most negatives for the Preziosa was reagrding the food. Many were saying that it was often co,d and that there was not much choice. The best way to look at that is to remember that I don't have to go and buy the food, cook it and then do the washing up. Plus the fact that on a cruise, you would never go hungry, so it can't really be that bad.

I will definitely consider MSC for any future cruises. Thank you everyone!

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Only been on one MSC once from Southampton, as has been said they pick up at all ports it’s like a ferry service. The day we were in Hamburg there were so many passengers getting on that no one else had their cabins serviced that day at all. So all those with kids didn’t have their bung beds or sofa beds put up or put out. There was no air conditioning that day so we all had soaking wet towels.


The kids club age 7 to 11 were allowed to sign themselves out and wander the ship on their own. Most of the Brits on board weren’t happy with that so had to fill a form in saying no, which the kids club weren’t pleased about. Plus when my daughter went to register the kids on boarding in Southampton, they complained that she hadn’t signed them in on day one which apparently was in Hamburg so she couldn’t as it was 4 days before we boarded. They had the farewell party the day before Hamburg so it appears the cruise was really a Hamburg to Hamburg cruise and we were just nuisances boarding in Southampton even though Brits were over half the ship trying it out for the first time.



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