MSC Cruises Cabins to Avoid (Some Don’t Even Have Real Beds!)

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MSC Cruises offers a cross between American and Italian-style cruising, with a fleet that’s growing rapidly. Across the 22 ships currently in the fleet, there are some amazing experiences to be had. But it can all go a little bit wrong if you book the wrong cabin.

MSC Cruises ships

The thing is, the MSC ships are all quite different. The smallest ship in the fleet is around 30% the size of the biggest – that’s quite the difference. And the accommodation options across all those ships are pretty inconsistent, too.

Normally, when I write these cabins to avoid guides, like the Carnival cabins to avoid, or for individual ships like Wonder of the Seas cabins to avoid, I’ll say the same thing – there aren’t really any “bad” cabins, just ones that are suited to certain cruisers, and less so to others.

But with MSC, there are a couple of cabins that arguably are outright bad, and you might not be aware of them when you book.

Most of the cabins on this list are subjective, so relax – you’ll normally have a great time regardless, with maybe a minor issue that only slightly dampens the cruise.

Still, it’s good to be prepared, so here are the cabins to avoid on an MSC cruise.

1. Bella Balcony Cabins with Metal Fronts

When you book a cruise with MSC, you have the choice of three different cruise fares (though you may not be offered all three, if some of the fares have sold out). There’s Bella, Fantastica and Aurea.

Bella is the lowest rate, and part of the deal is that you get rooms in less desirable locations. You also don’t get to choose your cabin – it’s assigned to you by the cruise line.

If you book a Bella Balcony Cabin, there’s a high chance you’ll get one of the balconies that have a metal railing rather than a glass one. You can see what these look like in the photo below…

MSC Virtuosa metal fronted balconies

A metal railing is hardly the end of the world, but it’s a minor inconvenience that you’d rather avoid – it means that, when you’re sat on a chair on the balcony, you can’t see out – you get a lovely sky view, but you want to see the sea.

If you just want the fresh sea air, then a Bella Balcony is fine, but if you want to be able to enjoy the sea view without being stood at the railing, I’d recommend booking at least a Fantastica room.

I booked a Bella balcony on MSC Virtuosa, but when I saw what it would look like, I paid £160 extra to upgrade to a Fantastica balcony so I could pick my own cabin number.

As we were cruising with small kids, I wanted them to be able to see through the glass on the balcony. If they couldn’t, my fear was that they would be more likely to climb up to see over it.

The locks on thew balcony doors are so low down that my six-year-old could easily open it, so we couldn’t take our eyes off them for a second.

My kids opening the balcont door on MSC Virtuosa.

2. Junior Aurea Suites That Aren’t Worth It

Some of the newer MSC ships (MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Seashore, MSC Seascape, MSC World Europa) have a suite option called the Junior Aurea Suite.

It’s similar in style to Junior Suites on other cruise ships – intended as a sort of entry point into suite-level accommodations, though without all the fancy bells and whistles that a better suite would get you.

Junior Suite on MSC World Europa
Junior Suite on MSC World Europa

However, a Junior Aurea Suite isn’t quite the upgrade on a Balcony Cabin that you’d hope it would be. The only real difference is that the balcony itself is larger – potentially by as much as 11 square metres, sure, but is that worth a potential extra £500 per person or more?

The stateroom size is identical – 17 square metres for both a Junior Aurea Suite and a Deluxe Balcony Aurea on MSC Seashore, as an example. And you don’t get any of the suite perks you’d get for booking a better suite.

As one past guest discovered, you can actually end up paying more for a worse position if you upgrade – and then MSC will try to charge you more again if you want to reverse your decision:

"In summary, not only did they automatically take our 500 bucks to "upgrade", they gave us a subjectively worse room on the same floor. "
Source: Reddit

If you were looking at booking a Junior Aurea Suite, I’d consider saving yourself the money and picking a Deluxe Balcony Cabin instead, especially when you consider which side of the ship you want to cruise on as that passenger did. Or, splash a little extra to choose a higher suite class.

3. Accessible Cabins That Aren’t Very Accessible

On pretty much every cruise ship sailing for the major cruise lines, a handful of rooms are converted for wheelchair and scooter users, designated as Accessible rooms. They can be any class – cruise lines tend to offer a small variety of inside, oceanview, balcony and suite options so that guests with accessibility needs aren’t limited in choice.

However, some of the accessible rooms on MSC ships aren’t actually very well designed. Technically, they are accessible – they will have the necessary bathroom adjustments, and they will be big enough for a wheelchair or scooter to manoeuvre through, but only just.

accessible bathroom on MSC Cruises ship

It seems like no thought has been put into making the rooms comfortable or easy to use.

Check out this video from MSC Virtuosa to see what an Accessible Balcony looks like – the wheelchair barely fits down the end of the bed, the fold-down bed on the wall makes it hard to get past, and the ramp that’s been fitted to the balcony isn’t flush to the floor so gives quite the bump.

It’s not the only video review I’ve seen complaining about the comfort of these rooms, which seem very much like an afterthought on some MSC ships. Sister ship MSC Grandiosa has the same issues.

Here’s another from MSC Meraviglia too:

But on some of the newest ships, the rooms seem to have a much better layout. The thing is, if you book a wheelchair-accessible room, you need it to be accessible, right? There’s just no excuse for such poor design here.

4. Cabins Without a Bed

If you were to list off the essentials for a cruise cabin – something that all cabins should have as a bare minimum – I’m fairly certain that “a bed” would be very close to the top of the list.

And yet…

If you choose selected Studio Solo Inside cabins on MSC Meraviglia, designed for one passenger, you might find that instead of a bed, you get a single sofa bed.

Sofa beds in cruise cabins are a pretty common feature, but as a second bed – they always have a proper bed for the first guests. Not so in these rooms, though, as my friend Fraser demonstrates…

It appears to be a particular design quirk of MSC Meraviglia only. I’ve checked other deck plans and there don’t seem to be the same rooms – even on Meraviglia’s sister ship the MSC Bellissima.

Here’s the MSC Meraviglia deck plan – check the light pink rooms 10003 and 10004 at the front of the ship, and 10074 nestled among the other inside rooms:

MSC Meraviglia deck plan

And here’s the same deck on sister ship Bellissima:

MSC Bellissima deck plan

5. Cabins Next to Crew Stairwells

MSC Cruises’ ships are generally ‘busier’ than most other cruise ships – and it’s not because they cram more people onto each ship, or because they build massive ships.

It’s because MSC runs itineraries a little differently to other cruise lines. Instead of every cruise having a set embarkation and disembarkation port, many actually have extended sailings with different start and end ports.

So, your cruise might begin in Southampton, but then when you reach Barcelona, your cruise is only half-complete but other people are boarding the ship to start their cruise.

This can mean that, on some itineraries, there are people boarding and leaving the ship almost every day. And this can cause issues if you get a cabin next to a crew stairwell.

See, every night, guests who are leaving the ship will place their suitcases outside their stateroom door, and the crew then move them ready for disembarkation. And that’s not a quiet job, with cases being lugged downstairs every night.

That means that MSC’s crew-stairwell-adjacent rooms tend to suffer much more disturbance than they would on a regular ship, as is explained in this video…

To avoid these rooms, you should look for cabins that are adjacent to a stairwell or a blank space on the deck plan – as sometimes the crew stairs aren’t marked on the deck plan. Instead, try to book a cabin surrounded by other cabins.

Here’s the MSC Preziosa deck plan with the cabin featured in that video (cabin 12079)

MSC Preziosa deck plan

6. Cabins That Run Parallel to Corridors

Another point that the video above makes is about cabins that run parallel to corridors, instead of perpendicular. By that, I mean the long cabin wall is next to the corridor, rather than just the doorway.

Examples in that MSC Preziosa deck plan image include 12064, 12076, 12079 and 12091. You’ll find rooms in similar locations on MSC Divina, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, and in other locations on the rest of the fleet.

If you choose one of these cabins, you’re much more likely to suffer from noise disturbances whenever people are moving around. Instead of them just passing by your door (which is one of the better soundproofing parts of a room), they’re walking all the way along most of the wall.

So, if your ship happens to have a lot of early risers, or late-night party animals, or just plain rude people who don’t keep quiet in corridors, then you’re going to hear them a lot.

7. Connecting Cabins That You Don’t Need

Connecting cabins are found on many cruise ships. It’s where you have two adjacent cabins with a door between them that remains locked throughout your cruise. However, if your party books both rooms, you can have the door unlocked and turn two cabins into one, larger shared space.

Connecting cabins MSC World Europa

The problem comes if you only book one though. The connecting door isn’t the thickest material and does a worse job of soundproofing than a regular wall. If you end up with noisy neighbours, you’ll hear them much clearer and louder than you would in a non-connecting room.

And, of course, if you’re loud during your cruise, it means they’ll hear you, too.

These are great cabins if you need both together, otherwise it’s best to look elsewhere on the ship.

8. Cramped Oceanview Cabins With Limited Light

Some of the Oceanview cabins on older Lirica-class MSC ships are particularly small at around 13 square metres or 140 square feet, and feel even smaller if they’re rooms that can sleep up to four guests.

Oceanview cabin on MSC Armonia
Oceanview cabin on MSC Armonia
(Expect similar on MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera)

The Pullman beds in these rooms are the fold-down options, rather than those hidden in the ceilings, so even when they aren’t in use, they take up quite a bit of space.

When you then add in the fact that the rooms have a picture window, you end up with a cramped space that, at times, might not get much light. You’ll get some, sure, and it’s better than a porthole, but you should be prepared for a room that might feel a little claustrophobic if you prefer to have lots of space to get ready.

You may prefer to just get a cheaper Inside room and save a little money.

Suggested read: Why I (Almost) Always Choose an Inside Cabin for a Family Cruise

It’s not so much an issue on newer ships – even the Musica-class (MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra, MSC Poesia and MSC Magnifica) have bigger Oceanview cabins.

9. Obstructed View Cabins

Most cruise ships have rooms with an obstructed view – or as MSC calls them in the deck plans, “Cabins with a partial view”.

This is where either your window or balcony view will be obscured by something – either a part of the ship’s structure or, quite commonly, the lifeboats outside the ship.

Lifeboat on MSC Virtuosa
Balconies behind a lifeboat on MSC Virtuosa

These aren’t bad cabins, since you’ll often be able to get them at a discounted rate. But think about whether they’re worth booking anyway, and what you want from the view.

If you are booking a balcony to be able to look out to sea, would it maybe be better to choose a cheaper Oceanview cabin that isn’t obstructed?

10. Cabins That Can Be Worse for Seasickness

If you’re prone to motion sickness, then you may suffer from seasickness when you’re on a cruise ship. There are ways to prevent seasickness, and one of those is choosing a cabin in the right location.

The higher you are on a ship, the more you’ll feel the movement of the waves. The same also applies to how close you are to the front (forward) or rear (aft) of the ship.

MSC Divina in Santorini
MSC Divina

A high forward or aft cabin on your cruise ship could therefore be one of the worst options, if seasickness is a concern. Instead, choose a cabin that’s on a lower deck, as close to the mid-ship as possible.

Aim for a room with a view too – either an Oceanview, Balcony, or Suite. Focussing on the horizon can help, as can fresh air, so a room with a balcony could be ideal.

11. Overlooked Balcony Cabins

Privacy is not always guaranteed when you book a Balcony Cabin or a Suite on an MSC Cruises ship. Many of the ships have a design that includes a wider central section, which results in a handful of rooms having larger balconies.

Larger balconies on MSC Seaside

Here’s an example of the MSC Seaside deck plans…

MSC Seaside deck plan

If you look a little closer, you’ll see how rooms like 10071 and 10075 have larger balconies, but that means they overlook the balconies in rooms 10065, 10067 and 10069.

The problem is worse from higher decks too – so 11071 would have an even better view into those 10th-deck rooms from above.

On some ships, the lower balconies jut out from the ones above, so anyone looking down will see straight on these, like this…

looking down onto someone elses balcony on MSC Virtuosa

With any balcony, always check the deck plan for the design of the ship – this will help you identify where other balconies could overlook your own, if you would rather avoid having someone else being able to see into yours.

12. Cabins With ‘Private’ Whirlpools

Many of the modern MSC ships are advertised as having a private whirlpool on the balcony for guests to use, which is a really nice feature. The whirlpools are a decent size too, with enough space for a couple to share in comfort.

The problem with them is that they aren’t very ‘private’. Because of the shape of these balconies, they’re also overlooked by guests with other suites nearby.

Whirlpool on the balcony of MSC ship

It might not be that important to you, but a lot of people will want to enjoy a whirlpool in their swimwear in a little more privacy – otherwise, you might as well just head to the public whirlpools on the pool decks.

13. Rooms Below the Pool Deck

The most common advice when choosing a cruise ship cabin on any ship is to try to book one with cabins above and below you. Even if you are on a ship with a particularly rowdy crowd, ‘people sounds’ tend to be the quietest on a ship.

Choosing a room below the pool deck can be one of the worst locations, especially if you like a lie-in each morning. That’s because the sound of loungers being dragged across the wooden deck will really reverberate through your ceiling and sound pretty nasty.

MSC Virtuosa pool deck

Of course, if you’re going to be one of those early risers who want to secure their lounger, then the closer to the pool deck, the better.

After all, crew members don’t enforce any rules about reserving loungers on MSC ships. So if you don’t get up at the crack of dawn and put your towel down, your other option is to move other people’s stuff when you want to sit down.

14. Rooms Under the Buffet

The buffet restaurants are another area of MSC ships that seems to be particularly noisy. Not just from the guests, but the kitchen spaces for these restaurants can be quite loud, and is often heard through the ceilings of the rooms below.

The Buffet on MSC Virtuosa

It’s not a huge issue, since the buffet isn’t open super-late, but it’s another one to bear in mind if you want a good night’s sleep.

15. Rooms Above The Theatre

A room above the theatre is always one to avoid on any cruise ship, MSC Cruises included. The reason for this is that they can be very noisy, not only during performances, but during rehearsals.

The theatre on MSC Virtuosa

The shows on MSC Cruises can start very late, and often go on well past 11 pm. So if you like to go to bed early, then a room directly above the theatre will certainly be one to avoid. Be sure to check the deck plan for this.

16. Shaded Balconies

If you like to sit on your balcony and enjoy the sunshine, then you’ll want to avoid any balconies that an under an overhanging canopy, like this…

Shaded balconies on MSC Virtuosa

As mentioned earlier, many of the ships have wider and narrower sections. If your balcony is higher up and in one of the narrower sections, then you can expect to not have any sun shining on it at all.

This could be an advantage if you prefer the shade. And if it’s rainy on your cruise, it can be great too, as you can sit outside without getting wet!

Final Word

Whether you’re booking a cruise on the oldest MSC ships, such as MSC Armonia, or one of the newest, like MSC Euribia, there are a few key cabin types you might want to avoid.

Some aren’t going to be an issue on every ship, but with this guide you should know what to look for when you check the deck plans.

If you’re concerned about your room, I’d recommend booking a Fantastica or Aurea cruise fare, since you’ll get to choose your cabin number – if you opt for the cheaper Bella rate, you could end up with something you really don’t like.

Links to MSC Cruises Deck Plans:

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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1 thought on “MSC Cruises Cabins to Avoid (Some Don’t Even Have Real Beds!)”

  1. Thanks for the summary!

    Another MSC cabin caveat emptor: those with neither an armchair nor a sofa; just the tiny, backless stool under the vanity/desk.

    It’s on certain ships only, and possibly anything called a “junior interior”‘ as was my Preziosa cabin on a long repositioning itinerary. Not sure if “junior” on other categories have the same thing.

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