Besides offering a variety of suites and staterooms, MSC also has some choice available in the level of service, which of course costs more with each level of improvement. Not all options are available with every room category. Suites all have Aurea, the highest level, which is not an option for inside or ocean view staterooms who can choose only from the two lower levels, Bella or Fantastica. Balcony cabins on the other hand have the option of choosing from all three. All categories earn loyalty points. MSC also has a program where people who have previously cruised on other lines can match their loyalty status from another line on MSC even when booking their first cruise with them.
Levels of Service
Bella is available with the guaranteed staterooms standard cruise package where you just get a category guarantee and don’t choose your own stateroom. These often end up with the least desirable (and therefore least expensive) cabins such as balconies with metal fronts rather than glass, obstructed ocean views, or cabins located at the extreme front or back of the ship or in noisy areas such as near a nightclub. There is a fee to make any changes to your booking such as relocating to a different cabin, and your seating preferences as to early or late dining are given last priority. No free room service any time of day. Bella service includes all standard cruise amenities like dining room or buffet meals, shows, use of the ship’s facilities like the pool, gym, and kids clubs for passengers with kids.
Advantages for picking Fantastica instead of Bella include priority over Bella guests for dining room seating preferences, better cabin locations, choose your own cabin rather than having one assigned, you can make cabin changes without paying a fee, one free option to change the cruise date or destination as long as it is done at least a month prior to sailing, free room service at breakfast, and a 20% discount on pre-paid specialty dining packages. Bathrobes are not provided in the cabin, but we cruised at this level and one was delivered to my cabin on request. Washcloths aren’t provided in the staterooms either so if you want any you have to ask for those as well.
Aurea guests have priority boarding and exclusive areas of the ship (generally a sundeck and solarium) that are not open to other guests. Bathrobes and slippers are provided in the cabin along with a pillow menu so you can choose your preferred pillow rather than just using whatever they provide. This level includes a welcome package of goodies in the cabin on departure day. Aurea guests get first priority on dining room seating times and the option of my choice dining where they can eat at any time within the specified open time for the dining room rather than having a specific seating time. Other levels do not have the anytime dining option on MSC. As well as the 20% off pre-paid specialty dining packages, Aurea guests also get 24-hour free room service delivery (the food is not free other than the free breakfast items, just the delivery). Also 40% off a pre-paid spa package or 10% off spa services purchased onboard. Aurea balcony cabins are in prime locations. Guests in the Yacht Club receive extra perks on top of the Aurea perks.
Amenities for all cabin types include two beds that can be pushed together for one king-sized bed, a closet, a bathroom with shower or tub, interactive TV, telephone, safe, and a refrigerator stocked with costly minibar items, which the steward can remove if you just want to use it for a refrigerator. In-room wi-fi is available if you purchase an internet package. Most rooms have a sofa, which in some can be converted to a bed. Some rooms have bunks or connecting doors to the next cabin. Studio and junior cabins just have a chair rather than a sofa.
Balcony cabins come with the options of Deluxe Balcony Aurea, Premium Balcony, Deluxe Balcony with Partial View, and Studio Balcony with Deluxe Balcony Aurea being the largest and most expensive and Studio Balcony the smallest and cheapest among the balcony cabins – all of which of have an oceanside veranda. Studio balcony cabins are only 129 square feet while the premium balcony cabins are up to 237 square feet, and deluxe are 183. Balconies range from 43 to 151 square feet. When a size range is given within any individual stateroom category on cruise ships the largest ones are generally the accessible cabins.
Ocean View cabins include Premium Ocean View, Deluxe Ocean View, Junior Ocean View, and Junior Ocean View with obstructed views. Sizes range from 129 square feet for the junior cabins, which is the same as balcony or interior studio cabins to 237 feet for premium cabins. Deluxe ocean view rooms are about 172 square feet.
Interior cabins come in Deluxe Interior or Studio. Deluxe range from 183 to 237 square feet, the larger of which are accessible cabins. At 129 square feet, interior studio cabins are the cheapest accommodations onboard. Good for solo or really budget conscious travelers or people who don’t do much other than sleep, shower, and change clothes in their cabin.
The Aurea suites are some of the nicest accommodations onboard as they come with large balconies and private hot tubs. These come in two sizes, the Grand Suite Aurea with terrace and whirlpool which is about 420 square feet with a balcony of about 388 square feet and the Premium Suite Aurea at 291 square feet with a balcony of about 280 – 323 square feet. These rooms have a sitting area separate from the bedroom that includes a double sofa bed.
Yacht Club guests have cabins in a locked off area where other guests can’t go, referred to by MSC as a ship within a ship. Areas exclusive to yacht club guests only include a pool and sundeck, their own dining room, and a bar in the yacht club area where drinks are free. These rooms all have complimentary wi-fi. One of the front elevators is usually marked as exclusively for the use of yacht club guests and doesn’t stop to pick people up on other decks. Inside cabins in the yacht club are no bigger than some of the cabins elsewhere onboard yet can be nearly as expensive as suites that are not in the yacht club. The price just goes up from there.
The biggest, fanciest, and most expensive suites onboard are the Duplex suites with whirlpool. These two-story suites feature a main floor with open living and dining room and a sofa that converts to a double bed as well as a bathroom with a shower. The top floor houses a master bedroom with the usual two single beds that can be pushed together for a king bed, two walk-in closets, and a bathroom with a bathtub. These 635 square foot suites have 248 square foot balconies.
The Royal Suite is a close second at 603 square feet with a 129 square foot balcony. Its balcony includes a dining area as well as a private whirlpool. This suite has a living room area separate from the bedroom, a walk-in closet, and a bathtub in the bathroom.
Deluxe Suites are 280-312 square feet with balconies from 54-161 square feet. The large balconies come with forward-facing suites on deck 15. These suites have the sitting area next to the bed resembling an oversized version of the standard cabins.
Though they are called suites, the interior rooms in the yacht club are more like standard cabins than suites at just 183 square feet. What people are paying the big bucks for with these rooms is all the perks and amenities that come with being in the yacht club rather than the room itself.
A very impressive ship. I do wonder how many spring for the Yacht Club experience or not. Calling it “a ship within a ship” certainly does try its best to steer their visitors in that direction.
The Yacht Club is a feature on other MSC ships as well so they must not have any problem filling those cabins.
Too too big for me!
The ship itself or some of the fancy suites?