MSC Bella Vs Fantastica Vs Aurea: Which to choose?

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When you book a cruise with MSC Cruises, as well as deciding all the usual things such as which is the best ship, which cabin type to go for and whether to buy the drinks package, you’ll have an extra decision to make…

MSC Cruises offers three different ‘experiences’ which are named Bella, Fantastica and Aurea. Each has different benefits and a different price, so you can decide whether you want a budget-friendly cruise, or to pay a little more for lots of added extras.

MSC Bella, Fantastica, Aurea

If you’re trying to decide whether to go for the Bella experience, the Fantastica Experience or the Aurea experience for your next cruise, read on and I’ll help you to make the right decision based on your preferences…

MSC Bella experience

What is the MSC Bella experience?

MSC Cruises’ Bella experience is the standard cruise package. The Bella experience doesn’t cost any extra. You’ll get everything that you would expect on a cruise – accommodation, meals, entertainment and use of the kids’ clubs and leisure facilities.

What’s included in the Bella experience?

MSC Cruises’ Bella experience includes the following…

Accommodation

With the Bella experience, you’ll only be able to choose from cabins in the less-desirable areas of the ship such as right at the front, right at the back or somewhere noisy like right above the nightclub.

If you choose a Bella balcony cabin, it may have a metal rail rather than glass, which means that you would have to stand up to enjoy the view. Bella balcony cabins sometimes have obstructed views or they may be in locations that are prone to being windy or shaded.

That said, not all Bella cabins are bad, some of them are actually just as good as Fantastica cabins. So check the deck plan before you decided.

Food and drink

With MSC Cruises’ Bella experience, you’ll be able to dine in the buffet or one of the main dining rooms at no charge, as well as having the option to eat in the speciality restaurants for an extra fee if you wish.

You can submit a preference for an early or late sitting, but there’s no guarantee that your request will be met as the first choices are given to guests who have booked the Fantastica or Aurea packages.

Activities

With the Bella experience, you’ll be able to use the ship’s pools, gym, sports facilities and see shows in the theatre with no charge. Your children can attend sessions in the kids club each day for no extra cost.

Services

On the newer MSC Cruises ships, you’ll have access to the MSC for Me App and ZOE, the voice-enabled digital cruise assistant.

Loyalty points

Whichever experience you choose, you’ll earn MSC Voyagers Club points which will give you discounts and perks on future cruises.

MSC Cruises inside cabin
Interior cabin on MSC Meraviglia
Photo credit: MSC Cruises

Which cabin types does the Bella experience apply to?

You can select the Bella experience when you book any Interior, Ocean View or Balcony Cabin. You cannot select the Bella experience if you want to stay in a Suite.

MSC Fantastica experience

What is the MSC Fantastica experience?

The Fantastica experience is an upgrade to MSC Cruises’ standard package. For an extra cost, you’ll enjoy a range of perks such as a cabin in a better location, free room service at breakfast and the first choice of dinner sittings, amongst other things.

What’s included in the MSC Fantastica package?

MSC Cruises’ Fantastica experience includes…

Accommodation

When you upgrade to the Fantastica experience, you can choose from cabins in the most desirable areas of the ship, such as in a mid-ship location near the elevators.

The wider choice of accommodation means that you may have the option of a sofa bed for kids, rather than a Pullman bed. You may also be able to find a cabin with an extra-large balcony if you study the deck plan carefully.

Food and drink

As well as dining in the buffet and main restaurants, if you choose MSC Cruises’ Fantastica experience you can enjoy breakfast delivered to your cabin with no charge.

At other times, all guests have to pay for room service, but Fantastica guests won’t be charged the $3.95 delivery fee.

If you choose the Fantastica experience and book a Balcony cabin or a Suite, you’ll have the first pick of dining times. This means that you’re virtually guaranteed to get the early or late sitting that you request.

On MSC Opera, MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Armonia, Fantastica guests staying in Balcony cabins and Suites can also opt for flexible ‘My Choice’ dining in the dedicated restaurants.

Activities

Just the same as the Bella experience, you’ll be able to use the ship’s pools, gym, sports facilities and see shows in the theatre with no charge. With the Fantastica experience, kids can attend some extra activities such as cooking classes and foreign language classes.

Services

Just as with the Bella package, Fantastica guests sailing on the newer ships will have access to the MSC for Me App and ZOE, the voice-enabled digital cruise assistant.

With the Fantastica package, each guest will also get one free photo which will be taken during the Mediterranean Night in the main dining rooms.

Loyalty points

Whichever experience you choose, you’ll earn MSC Voyagers Club points which will give you discounts and perks on future cruises.

MSC Cruises room service breakfast
MSC Fantastica guests can order room service breakfast for no charge
Photo credit: MSC Cruises

Which cabin types does the Fantastica experience apply to?

You can upgrade to the Fantastica experience when you book any cabin type, including Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite.

What is the difference between Bella and Fantastica?

When you upgrade from Bella to Fantastica you will get:

  • Choice of the best cabin locations
  • Free room service at breakfast and no delivery fee at other times
  • Some extra activities for kids
  • Free photo
  • The first choice of dinner sittings (Balcony and Suites only)

MSC Aurea experience

What is MSC Aurea experience?

The Aurea experience is MSC Cruises’ top package. For an extra cost, you’ll enjoy the best benefits such as unlimited drinks, access to exclusive areas of the ship and priority boarding.

What does the MSC Aurea experience include?

MSC Cruises’ Aurea experience includes…

Accommodation

MSC Cruises’ Aurea experience lets you choose from the same cabins as you’d get in the Fantastica experience. There’s no benefit to choosing Aurea when it comes to accommodation.

Food and drink

The MSC Aurea experience gives you the option to enjoy My Choice dining at a time to suit you, as well as the first preference of the early or late sitting. Another huge benefit of the Aurea package is that you get a free Easy drink package.

The Easy drink package entitles you to free draught beer, house wines, selected spirits and cocktails, soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water and classic hot drinks. If you prefer, you can pay a little more to upgrade your drinks package to Easy Plus or Premium Extra.

Suggested read: MSC Drink Packages Guide

Activities

The Aurea experience gives adults access to an exclusive sundeck on your ship. You’ll also get a Wellbeing package which includes access to the Thermal Area of the spa throughout your cruise where you can visit the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. In the spa, you can enjoy a welcome cocktail, a private MediSpa doctor consultation, a 50-minute massage and a tanning booth session.

Services

Just as with the other packages, Aurea guests sailing on the newer ships will have access to the MSC for Me App and ZOE, the voice-enabled digital cruise assistant. Aurea guests aged 12 and over will also get an MSC for Me wristband instead of the traditional cruise card.

As well as the complimentary photo, Aurea guests get a free gift, as well as the use of an MSC Cruises bathrobe and slippers in their cabin. They also get priority boarding on embarkation day.

Loyalty points

Whichever experience you choose, you’ll earn MSC Voyagers Club points which will give you discounts and perks on future cruises.

MSC Cruises Aurea spa
The sauna on MSC Seaview
Photo credit: MSC Cruises

Which cabin types does the Aurea experience apply to?

The MSC Aurea experience is only available for guests staying in Balcony cabins or Suites. If you want an Interior or Ocean View cabin, then you will have to choose either a Bella or Fantastica experience.

What is the difference between Fantastica and Aurea?

When you upgrade from Fantastica to Aurea you will get:

  • Free drinks package
  • The option to choose flexible dining times
  • Access to Thermal Area of the spa and private sundeck
  • Free massage, tanning booth session and MediSpa consultation
  • Priority boarding
  • MSC for Me wristband (on the newer ships)

Which MSC experience is best?

Which MSC experience is best depends on how much value you place on each of the added extras and the cost of the upgrade.

The price to upgrade from Bella to Fantastica or Aurea varies from cruise to cruise and can also change over time. It also depends on the cabin type, so you might find that upgrading to Fantastica could cost £140 extra for an Inside cabin, but only £30 extra for an Ocean View cabin, as an example.

The price of upgraded experiences is payable per person, but it usually only applies to the adults in your cabin.

Are the Fantastica or Aurea experiences worth it?

On a seven-night cruise, let’s say that the Fantastica experience costs £50 per person extra and the Aurea experience costs around £100 per person extra (the actual prices may be different on your cruise)

So, you would need to look at the perks and decide if they are worth it for you…

MSC Fantastica perks:

  • Choice of the best cabin locations
  • Free room service at breakfast and no delivery fee at other times
  • Some extra activities for kids
  • Free photo
  • The first choice of dinner sittings (Balcony and Suites only)

MSC Aurea perks:

  • All of the Fantastica perks
  • Free drinks package
  • The option to choose flexible dining times
  • Access to Thermal Area of the spa and private sundeck
  • Free massage, tanning booth session and MediSpa consultation
  • Priority boarding
  • MSC for Me wristband (on the newer ships)

When to upgrade to Fantastica

The Fantastica package can be worth it…

1. If you’re not happy with the choice of Bella cabins

Take a look at the cabins you’re offered with Bella. If you don’t like any of them, you should probably consider upgrading to Fantastica for more choice.

2. If you’re cruising with kids

Children aren’t charged for the upgrade, but they’ll benefit from the extra kids’ activities, room service breakfast and the free photo. You’ll likely also be able to avoid having to wait for the second dinner sitting and can choose a cabin with the bed configuration that works best for your family.

3. If you order a lot of room service

If you prefer to eat breakfast on your balcony so that you can leave the ship as early as possible to go sightseeing and like to order room service a few more times throughout your cruise, this can make the Fantastica package worth the extra.

When to upgrade to Aurea

The Aurea package can be worth it…

1. If you want a drinks package

The Easy drinks package usually costs £27 (or $35) per day, which works out at £189 per person for a week. If you’re planning to buy this anyway, you might want to consider getting the Aurea experience as the package is included.

2. If you’re cruising without kids

Kids aren’t allowed in the spa or the private sundeck, so if you have kids with you, you’ll only be able to use these areas when your little ones are in the kids’ club. You need to be child-free to really make the most of the Aurea experience.

3. If you like to dine at different times each day

One day you might like to dine at 6pm right after your excursion, another you might like to lay in the sun until 8pm, get ready for an hour and then eat at 9pm. The Aurea package allows you to do this with flexible dining option.

To conclude

If you’re cruising on a budget, the Bella experience will be the best one for you. However, depending on your circumstances and the cost, it might be worth upgrading to Fantastica or Aurea.

Remember that some cruises already come with perks such as free all-inclusive drinks. You’ll want to consider what you’re entitled to already before deciding if the upgrade is worth it.

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