Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Sign in to follow this  
aprilsp88

MSC vs Princess

Recommended Posts

Hi,

 

Saw a tempting MSC deal on the newer giant ship (Meriviglia).

 

Can someone who has taken MSC compare the 2? What should I be careful or will surprise me? How's the food and entertainment and customer service on MSC?

 

Thank you so much!

 

April

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both are cruises, apart from that they are very different.  On a Princess cruise you are in the US, and on an MSC cruise you are in Italy, everything is done the Italian way, very different from the American way.  I have cruised both and much prefer Princess, but you pay more.  The food is WAY better on Princess.  Everything on MSC ships is announced in 5-6 languages, but you get used to it.  Having said that I have enjoyed the Princess cruises and the MSC cruises I've been on, they're just very different.  The rooms are much nicer on MSC though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am platinum with Princess and recently sailed on the MSC Divina.

As stated above it is a different experience.

Cabins:

Princess cabins are very consistent and in good repair.

MSC Divina our cabin had a broken draw that was missing the entire front. Our friends cabin (both balcony) had open cords running on the floor from the TV, cracked and chipped cabinets.

 

Ship in general

Princess - subdued and clean, nice tile work around pools.

MSC Divina.  One word STUNNING.  Simply beautiful and yet comfortable

 

Entertainment

Princess - many choices

MSC Divina - Due to it being an Italian ship, English is not the main language, so shows are musicals and opera.  We enjoyed one, a tribute to Queen, but did not care for any of the other shows.

 

Food

We were excited to try an Italian spin on the food.  We were disappointed and felt Princess was much  better.  Food is subjective and we are not "foodies". MSC Buffet was particularly bad 

 

We enjoyed our cruise on MSC.  Do we intend on sailing MSC in the future, no.

 

Edited by Lidolounger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MSC is somewhat different as the atmosphere is very International (a little less so on the cruises departing from Miami).  If you book the Yacht Club (a ship within a ship) it will be a far superior experience (in terms of service and quality) then Princess.  But outside of the Yacht Club (95% of the ship) we find that MSC reminds us of something more akin to Carnival then Princess.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sailed on the MSC Opera to Norway about five years ago (a very good price).  We are Elite with Princess so obviously they are our preferred cruise line.

 

Doubt we will sail with MSC again because:

 

Food in buffet and dining rooms not to our taste, geared to Europeans and with limited variety (seemed to have an over abundance of fish).The dining room was very cramped with far too many tables for the space.

 

Kids often sail free so there are a lot of them on board and many on that cruise were unruly and poorly supervised.
 

As stated by another poster, entertainment is to European tastes.  Staff service was adequate but not very friendly.

 

Princess has always given us excellent value, A variety of delicious food; good (used to be excellent) entertainment and first class service.

 

Our MSC cruise was in Europe so their focus was true to the area and the majority of passengers but for us it was not a repeatable experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on MSC twice.  The service in the MDR is terrible.  When you try to complain, the head waiter just laughs about it.  The buffet is the worse I have ever eaten.  I was told it is European style.  They cook the food hours ahead and put it in the "steam" area underneath the serving area.  I can't say enough bad things about the evening buffet.  

Princess has much more room on deck to lounge around.   😪

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MSC is a different experience- beautiful spaces, good deal once you figure out the pricing structure and great coffee and gelato!  The food was okay- very small portions and not quite as fancy (and yes, heavy on the fish choices- also only a few choices each night).  The buffet was huge and that creates it's own issues- by the time you go through it, most of your food is cold.  They do have some great drink packages, room deals and they will even give you a loyalty status match which is really nice.  Overall there are reasons we love Princess, but we would go on MSC again if the price and itinerary were right!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We love MSC, and have two more booked with them this year alone. We're Black Card with them (earned, not through the status match) and also Elite on Princess, so obviously we enjoy both very much.

They're quite different - and we enjoy and embrace those differences ourselves. Others are happier with the more familiar, or spend a lot of time comparing rather than enjoying how each line has their own personality. 

MSC is Italian, and the onboard service standards, food, atmosphere, etc is definitely continental European, regardless of where the ship is sailing, and we love it. Not in your face, not trying to be buddy buddy busking for tips, efficient, friendly but definitely more like you'd Experience in Continental Europe versus more American style, ie checking in you every 5 minutes, etc.  

Food - entirely subjective. Yes, again, geared more towards continental European tastes - smaller (actually appropriate) portion sizes, so you can actually enjoy three courses abd not be stuffed or bloated.  If you're hungry, ask for more courses. Problem solved.  Lots of variety, but more geared towards European styles, less heavy meats and sauces,was fried stuff, fabulous pastas and risottos, etc.  Buffet on Evey ship we've sailed with MSC has had more than enough variety, and particularly live the Mediterranean sections - and the pizza is fantastic (way better than Princess IMO).

MSC's business model is different - what's included is based on your Experience booked - things like free room service or a drink package or thermal suite or such, based in your Experience booked.. and we love that, as we can choose whether we want to have those things bundled in our fare, or pay for things separately.   This is a biggie for a lot of new MSC cruisers, they get the cheapest cabin, and don't pay any attention to what's included, assuming it's like any other line.  

Much more international diverse clientele, which makes for some great, and not so great, interactions.  Mainly a great, but do understand there lots of opportunity for culture clashes 

And Entertainment on MSC is more visual and musical, as storylines or such don't translate well among multiple different cultures. Amazing production shows every night, but mainly music and dancing, very little story, but fabulous sets, acrobatics, etc.  Yes, announcements in 5-7 languages. All crew speaks English, but it may be their third or fourth language, not first.  Less comedy, cuz really hard to do funny for so many nationalities 

Cabins are normal cruise cabins - most all have sofas or some sitting area too though, versus maybe just the desk chair on Princess...

 

Princess - well, you're obviously familiar with them. Solid product, some great itineraries, you know the food and entertainment, etc. We thoroughly enjoy Princess also, and have 2 booked for next year also.

 

We enjoy the variety of different lines and Experiences. Some prefer the familiar and stick to one line. YMMV.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Divina - Food was inedible. crew was not at all friendly. Beautiful ship. I have never talked with anyone who has been on MSC that would ever go on them again (I have an MSC hat, and when I wear it, people ask how I liked it and always say never again).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, weedpindle said:

Divina - Food was inedible. crew was not at all friendly. Beautiful ship. I have never talked with anyone who has been on MSC that would ever go on them again (I have an MSC hat, and when I wear it, people ask how I liked it and always say never again).

We'll be sailing them frequently. We love them! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone, your replies are so helpful! Please continue. 🙂 I love this forum, everyone is so friendly and informational!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never been on MSC. I do listen to Podcasts  on Stitcher Radio. I listen to a show called Cruise Radio. They do cruise reviews and cover  a cruise pretty throughly. I recently heard one on MSC. Check them out. I found the review quite interesting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We loved our one MSC cruise.  Unobtrusive, excellent service, a beautiful ship, wonderful food and great value.  Yes, it is a different experience.  If you don't enjoy interacting with those of different cultures it probably isn't for you.  DH is retired AF so we lived abroad twice.  Because of this we realize our American way of waiting in lines, taking turns, etc... is not the norm in the rest of the world.  I also found that the passengers on MSC were much better dressed, and we often saw families playing cards, or doing an activity as a family group, even when the children were teenagers.  Not like on American lines where each age group hangs together.  We are sailing MSC again next spring, and I am so looking forward to it.  A trip to Italy and a cruise at the same time, can't beat that value!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, edspec said:

We loved our one MSC cruise.  Unobtrusive, excellent service, a beautiful ship, wonderful food and great value.  Yes, it is a different experience.  If you don't enjoy interacting with those of different cultures it probably isn't for you.  DH is retired AF so we lived abroad twice.  Because of this we realize our American way of waiting in lines, taking turns, etc... is not the norm in the rest of the world.  I also found that the passengers on MSC were much better dressed, and we often saw families playing cards, or doing an activity as a family group, even when the children were teenagers.  Not like on American lines where each age group hangs together.  We are sailing MSC again next spring, and I am so looking forward to it.  A trip to Italy and a cruise at the same time, can't beat that value!

Wishing the best of cruising,!

That was our experience too.. so many family groups enjoying each other's company, simple basic family interactions versus the mandatory forced entertainment of other lines, etc .

And yes, much much better dressed overall!!! Formal night is a whole different kettle of fish - it's a definite dress up as much as you can and outshine versus the Princess dress down as much as you can before you cross the line. We love it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our last cruise on MSC was aboard the Meraviglia in the Mediterranean from Civitavecchia, visiting Palermo, Valletta, Barcelona, Marseille, and Genoa. In a nutshell, it was one of the best cruises that I’ve ever taken in my life. 
 

Let me start by saying that we’d sailed on MSC before (in the Caribbean aboard the Divina), and we considered the experience aboard the Meraviglia and MSC in the Mediterranean to be far superior than the experience on the Divina, and MSC in the Caribbean. 
 

- The ship is indeed stunning, huge and amazing. In my experience, second in “wow factor“ to Royal’s Oasis class of ships. 
 

- One thing that differentiates MSC from other cruise lines is that it has various experiences with different perks. Bella is their most basic experience. Then there’s Fantástica, Aurea, and The Yacht Club. There’s also a Wellness experience on select ships (including Meraviglia). As mentioned above, Yacht Club is the “ship within a ship“ concept, where you’ll received the most perks and the most luxurious experience. 

 

- We opted for the Aurea experience. Prices for our sailing were so cheap that we decided to splurge a bit, but we were amazed at how much we got for our money. For $1K per person (total cruise fare, not extra on top of the cruise fare), we had a 2 deck, loft style suite with master bedroom upstairs, living and dining room downstairs, 2 bathrooms, 2 walk in closets, one of which was also a dressing room, and a forward facing terrace with our own jacuzzi tub. The Aurea experience gave us priority embarkation, complimentary drink package, 2 free massages at the spa, weeklong access to the thermal suite at the Aurea spa, access to a private solarium deck for Aurea passengers, and open time dining in a reserved section of the MDR for Aurea passengers. Needless to say, selecting these accommodations and experience was a huge reason why we enjoyed Meraviglia so much. 


- Cuisine was fine, similar to what we’ve experienced on other mainstream cruise lines, but it’s definitely not one of MSC’s biggest strengths. We did find the food aboard Meraviglia to be better than on previous MSC cruises we’ve taken, not only in selection and taste, but also in terms of freshness and presentation. As others have mentioned, the offerings tend to appeal to a more international clientele, which may be good for some, but not so much for those with less adventurous palates. 


- Main stage entertainment was also comparable to other mainstream cruise lines, but where MSC takes entertainment a notch above the others is with their Cirque du Soleil At Sea performances. There’s a dedicated theater for these shows, and there are two different shows. There’s an extra charge for them (when we sailed, it was 15 Euros), but it was well worth it. Great show, comparable to Cirque du Soleil shows on land.

 

- If traveling with children, the ship does have wonderful facilities and plenty to do, not only for the children, but for the young at heart adults. The kids club is huge, and it’s right next to a large indoor sports complex. In the same area, there’s also an entertainment area with a bowling alley, full size race car simulator, a 4D cinema, and a full motion flight/rollercoaster simulator. You can purchase a pass for the week if you’re planning to use these facilities. There’s also a huge water park with big water slides in the back of the ship. One great thing about the Meraviglia is that outdoor pools and water park are heated, so even if the air temperature is a bit chilly, it’s still comfortable to be in the water. Temperature hovered in the 60’s when we sailed, but we used the pools and water slides comfortably. 

 

Overall, I compare the experience on the MSC Meraviglia with Royal’s Oasis or Quantum class. It’s a great cruise experience on an amazing, technologically advanced ship, but it’s solidly a mainstream product unless you splurge for one of the more upscale experiences. 

 

Based on my experience, Princess in comparison will provide a more sedate, low key and upscale experience. I think that Princess ships are more elegant, and the quality of things like service and cuisine are a notch or two above what MSC offers. Hope you have a wonderful cruise . 

Edited by Tapi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our last couple of cruises on Princess were not what we are used to and we have soured on them due to the quality of the food and the condition of the Caribbean Princess.

Have sailed with MSC 5 times and have no problems with them, we became Biack Card before our first cruise because of our match status as Elite with Princess. 

MSC ships are beautiful especially the Divina, we expect the Miraviglia to be just as beautiful when we sail on her in April, The Seaside is stunning but too much glass and mirrors. MSC is trying to capture the American market with the Seaside with lots of Electric Dance Music blasted almost everywhere, you won't find this on other MSC ship.

We never had a bad meal in either the MDR or the buffet, the Italian food and pizza on MSC is the best on the high seas. Service is just about the same as Princess which is excellent, in fact in our 61 cruises I can't remember having any bad service on a cruise ship, even Carnival who we tried one time but never again had great service. 

Our biggest gripe with MSC is that we live in Florida and drive to all the ports, mostly Fort Lauderdale. MSC sails out of Miami and those extra 30 miles are a real pain with tons of traffic and insane drivers. Next year MSC will place the 60,000 ton Armonia in Tampa year round which will be great for us as it's the closest port for us.

So as I said we have soured on Princess but I'm sure one of these days we will book them again but as for now we will take our 3 or 4 cruises a year on Holland America, MSC and Celebrity.

Edited by MISTER 67

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, reedprincess said:

the mandatory forced entertainment of other lines, etc .

hmmm, never heard of the cruise entertainment having mandatory attendance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations

Announcements

×
×
  • Create New...