I Took A £99 Cruise! Cheap MSC Cruise Review



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If you know me, you’ll know that I’m always looking for a bargain when it comes to cruises. So much so that each week I send the very best deals I find to the people on my email list (join here if you want them).

So, when I spotted a cruise departing from Southampton that was just £99, I was all over it.

Here’s what was included in the £99:

  • 2 nights in an inside cabin on MSC Euribia
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Gratuities
  • Port fees and taxes

I also opted to add on a drinks package for another £80. Why? Well, this was a weekend cruise with my friend Hannah from Love Cruise Ships, and £40 per day for all-you-can-drink seemed like fun.

Cruise Mummy and Love Cruise Ships

Why was this cruise so cheap?

MSC Cruises are usually some of the cheapest there are. I’ve had cheap cruises before, paying just £800 for a family of four for a week on MSC Preziosa. The deals are there to be had.

Suggested read: The 7 Cheapest Cruise Lines 

MSC Cruises is different from most cruise lines because new guests can embark at almost every port of call. This cruise departed from Southampton, and the round trip was set to take three weeks. But, there was also the option to jump off anywhere you like for cheaper.

A one-way cruise from chilly Southampton to snowy Hamburg in early January is never going to be popular, and so this half-empty ship was super cheap, to try to fill at least some of the beds.

MSC Euribia cruise ship docked at Hamburg cruise port during winter, with a snow-covered ground in the foreground and industrial cranes in the background under a cloudy sky. The image conveys a cold, off-season atmosphere possibly contributing to lower cruise prices.

I have a whole article about why MSC Cruises are so cheap, if you’d like to know more about how this cruise line manages to keep prices so low.

I had low expectations

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. This was my fourth cruise with MSC Cruises, and after the last one, my husband vowed never to sail with them again. I couldn’t even persuade him to try staying in the luxury area of the ship, the Yacht Club.

Our last cruise was in the school summer holidays, MSC Virtuosa was absolutely rammed full of kids and I suspect that some of the crew may have been isolating because there were just not enough of them to be able to manage the crowds. It wasn’t fun.

But, it seems that when you take a cruise on a half-empty ship with a full crew, having five times as many crew members per guest makes a massive difference!

But, it’s not just the level of service that has improved in my eyes. This cruise was better than I expected in so many ways.

The good times started with embarkation, which was the fastest check-in and embarkation ever! We arrived at Southampton’s Horizon cruise terminal an hour ahead of our allotted time and was on the ship within five minutes. It was incredible.

Me, standing poised on a glittering cruise ship staircase, with one hand on the railing and a smile. The luxurious setting features reflective surfaces and elegant, modern design elements, contributing to the upscale cruise ambiance.

The ship

We sailed on MSC Euribia, which is one of MSC Cruises’ newest ships. She’s a sister-ship to MSC Virtuosa, but with some improvements. That’s one of the things I really like about MSC Cruises, with each ship they look at what works, what doesn’t, and aim to make things better and better.

Virtuosa’s wasted space of the carousel lounge (which was always empty in the daytime) and the gimmicky robot bartender are gone. Instead, there’s a lovely lounge with wake views and a pool table, plus a wine-tasting area with interactive screens on the tables. 

Like all MSC cruise ships, MSC Euribia is stunning. She has a futuristic vibe with lots of grey leather, chrome and glitzy crystals. Unlike more traditional ships, there’s barely any wood in sight.

Modern and stylish interior of a cruise ship lounge with comfortable grey swivel chairs, geometric patterned carpet, and contemporary lighting. Large screens and windows suggest a space designed for entertainment and relaxation.

The central promenade, or ‘galleria’ is particularly impressive, with its huge LED ceiling that looked different every time you looked up. I loved the dolphins and whales that would make it feel like you’re underwater.

An enchanting cruise ship promenade on MSC Euribia illuminated by a ceiling LED screen displaying a vibrant underwater scene with swimming stingrays. The area is architecturally detailed with arched walkways and shopfronts, creating an immersive, oceanic shopping experience.

If you’d like to see more of the ship, I have a full walkaround video tour for your on my YouTube channel…

The food

In the past, I’ve talked about MSC Cruises’ small portions, bland tastes, unimaginative menus and slow service with meals that take three hours each.

Well, I’m delighted to say that we didn’t experience any of those things on this cruise. The food in the main dining room was delicious and I’m thrilled to report that MSC Cruises now offers vegan menus!

I can’t explain how happy it makes me to be able to pick something from a menu rather than ask to see tomorrow’s menu and figure out what can be cobbled together. Well done, MSC!

The buffet was huge, with pretty much everything you could want, and too my delight, there are now labels to help people with special diets know what’s suitable for them. Hallelujah!

A guest at a cruise ship buffet under the 'Family & Kids' sign, serving themselves from a variety of dishes. The buffet area is clean and well-organized, featuring a selection of fruits and warm foods, with a crew member in attendance.

As it was such a short cruise, I can’t comment on any of the speciality restaurants. But everything we did eat was fantastic and the waiters were really friendly and chatty.

The drinks

As we had the drinks package, I was keen to sample some of the cocktails, and they were all brilliant. 

Two women smiling and toasting with vibrant pink cocktails adorned with fruit garnishes at a lively cruise ship bar. The atmosphere is festive with soft lighting and a blurred background of guests enjoying the entertainment.

When we first arrived, I ordered a glass of wine at lunch, and was expecting a very small glass. When it arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes, my huge glass had about half a bottle of wine in it! This picture doesn’t do justice to how big it was…

A close-up of a glass of chilled rosé wine on a dining table, with a bottle of Benedetto natural mineral water in the background. The setting suggests a refined dining experience on a cruise, with other passengers visible in the softly lit restaurant.

I was yet to film a tour of my cabin so I ended up a little tipsy while filming. Oops!

You can check out that video here…

Whenever we ordered drinks we would also ask for water in an effort to avoid being hungover on such a short cruise. The waiter would put two drinks and two bottles of mineral water on one cruise card, no problem.

The activities

MSC Euribia has so much to do on board that we really had to prioritise to fit everything in. Our first stop was the spa, where we enjoyed a lovely, relaxing time. The thermal area spa is huge with two large jacuzzis, about ten different saunas and steam rooms, an ice room, lots of fancy showers and plenty of relaxation areas.

Although Hannah hasn’t cruised with MSC Cruises before, she did have quite a high loyalty status with Royal Caribbean. Thanks to the MSC Status Match Program, Hannah was gold level with MSC. Whereas I was only silver.

This meant that as one of the loyalty perks, Hannah got a free pass to the spa. As we were sharing a cabin, I could also attend for just £20 instead of the usual £80. Sold!

A hand holds up an MSC Voyagers Club Gold membership card, prominently displayed against the backdrop of a cruise ship's opulent multi-level atrium with intricate glass staircases and modern design.

I wouldn’t have paid £80, but the £20 was money well spent, and it was the only extra thing we purchased on board.

MSC Euribia has a huge outdoor water park and I did brave one of the slides, even though it was zero degrees outside. It wasn’t too bad as the water was warm, but the lifeguard said that the other two slides weren’t heated so I skipped those and jumped straight into the outdoor hot tub.

MSC Euribia aft deck featuring a colorful array of winding waterslides in blue, teal, and orange. The slides spiral above a playful water park area, with a cityscape visible in the distance under a cloudy sky.

The outdoor hot tubs are warm enough, but I’d suggest bringing a woolly hat and sunglasses as the cold wind on your face isn’t the nicest. There is also a lively indoor pool though with indoor hot tubs which are much better for winter cruises.

Early evening on MSC Euribia pool deck, featuring loungers, a tranquil pool with fountains, and a large outdoor movie screen displaying underwater imagery. The deck overlooks a port with industrial structures in the distance, under a soft sunset sky.

We tried the high ropes course which is quite fun. It’s much tamer than some of the ones I’ve tried on other ships such as P&O Arvia and Norwegian Breakaway. This is good for younger kids, as they can join in too.

A close-up of the adventure ropes course on MSC Euribias top deck, featuring various challenging elements and safety harnesses against a cloudy sky, with a cityscape and river visible in the background.

There are plenty more things to do for an extra charge like bowling, VR games, a Formula One simulator and an arcade. And there are lots of free activities for kids in the kids clubs.

A high-tech virtual reality gaming area on MSC Euribia cruise ship, equipped with advanced VR gaming stations and illuminated with neon blue lights. The futuristic theme is enhanced by dynamic graphics and screens displaying immersive content.

Entertainment

We saw two shows in the theatre in the evenings and both were fantastic. There are three showings every night, but I’d still advise to book your place on the app each day as the theatre does get full. 

As MSC cruises have guests of all nationalities on board, the shows feature lots of dancing, costumes, gymnasts and magic, which is great. 

A vibrant live performance on the MSC Euribia stage, featuring a cast of dancers and singers in colorful costumes with intricate peacock feather designs in the backdrop. The stage is bathed in dramatic blue and purple lighting, enhancing the theatrical ambiance as the audience watches.

You can also enjoy live music in various bars and lounges and there are also street entertainers on the promenade as well as pop-up events.

A performer in a black and white striped suit with a curly green wig poses beside an easel with a simple line drawing of a face, creating a whimsical and artistic atmosphere in MSC Euribia cruise ship's bustling indoor promenade

We watched a beer-drinking competition where about 20 guests raced to finish glasses of beer the fastest. This probably wouldn’t happen on a British cruise, but it was pretty funny to watch!

The first night of our cruise was White Night. We had no idea that was on the agenda and I’m still not sure how you find out if there’s a White Night on your cruise or when it will be. So you might want to just assume there will be one and pack something white to wear.

White Night party on MSC Euribia

The casino on MSC Euribia is really big. Smoking is allowed in the casino, so it does smell a bit. We were excited to try it but on the second night of the cruise when we went at 9pm it was already closed. I’m not sure why that was, perhaps we were too close to land?

A vacant casino table awaits players in a cruise ship's casino, with the red baize of a baccarat table in the foreground and a row of slot machines in the background. The space is characterized by reflective red and purple metallic ceilings and patterned carpet, creating a vibrant gaming atmosphere.

The Itinerary

After sailing from Southampton and spending a day at sea, we arrived in Hamburg to several inches of snow! 

There were taxis waiting outside so we jumped in one and headed straight to the airport. The taxi cost 55 euros. We could have taken the train for much cheaper, but a taxi was super convenient and it was nice to see the snowy city centre.

The flight back to London was really quick and cost about £30. People often overlook one-way cruises, but they can be a great way to get a bargain, particularly with MSC Cruises who have a lot of them available.

If you prefer a round-trip from Southampton, 7-night cruises start at around £380 per person.

NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!

Don’t miss the latest MSC Cruises offers…

The Verdict

This cruise really made me realise that you shouldn’t ever write off a cruise line based on a bad experience, particularly if your bad experience was when restrictions were in place that were out of the cruise line’s control. I wasn’t a fan of MSC Cruises before, but this cruise was a 10/10 for me.

If you are able to cruise at less popular times of the year, as well as getting a great deal, one of the perks you may get is that your ship will be much less crowded. Having a waiter come over as soon as you sit down in a bar and never having to queue for an elevator are things that you really appreciate if you’re used to big, busy ships.

Suggested read: What Is The Cheapest Month To Go On A Cruise?

I’ll have no hesitation about cruising with MSC Cruises again. Now, I just need to get my husband to read this so that he’ll come too next time!

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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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