What’s Included in MSC Cruises (And How Much is Everything Else?)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

MSC Cruises can be some of the cheapest that you can book – but you need to understand exactly what that cruise fare then gets you. It’s no good assuming that you’re getting a bargain if it then turns out that you’ve got loads more that you need to fork out for.

Cruise Mummy smiling for a selfie with a large cruise ship MSC Euribia docked in the background. The ship is white with multiple decks, and various construction equipment is visible in the foreground under a cloudy sky.

What complicates matters even more is the fact that MSC offers three different ‘experiences’, all of which comes with different costs and different inclusions.

It can get a little confusing, but with this guide, I’ll make it clear what you get, and what you need to pay for, for each cruise fare you can choose.

And then you’ll know what counts as a real bargain cruise with MSC, and what actually isn’t as good a deal as you thought.

What’s Included in an MSC Cruise and What Costs Extra..?

1. Accommodation

As with any cruise line, your cruise fare covers your accommodation costs. It’s one of the main things that you’re actually paying for.

A cosy cabin on MSC Euribia cruise ship features two single beds with white linens and blue throws, separated by a nightstand. The room is decorated with framed marine-themed artwork and includes a vanity desk with a mirror and various amenities. Soft lighting creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

And as you’d expect, you have the typical range of cabin options available:

  • Inside cabins with no view
  • Ocean View cabins that have a window
  • Balcony cabins with a private balcony space
  • Suites, offering the most space and a range of extra perks.

However, as I’ve already said, there are different cruise fares you can book with MSC, called ‘Experiences’. And the experience that you choose will determine which cabin types you’re able to book.

ExperienceCabins You Can BookChoose Your Specific Cabin?
BellaInside, Ocean View, BalconyNo
FantasticaInside, Ocean View, BalconyYes

If you book the Bella experience, you only get a Guarantee cabin – one where the cruise line will pick your room for you, and you’ll only find out where you’re staying a few days before you sail.

Close-up of MSC cruise ship highlighting Bella Balcony and Fantastica Balcony cabins, marked by red arrows, showcasing the ship's multi-tiered accommodation options.

You’ll also get the worst locations on the ship – the ones that are furthest from the restaurants or leisure amenities or those with an obstructed view.

Also, if you book a cabin for 3 or 4 people, there’s a chance that you could be split between two cabins instead, if there isn’t a larger room available. 

MSC Virtuosa balcony cabin with bunk beds

This might be a good thing, but if you’re travelling with kids it could make things difficult, especially since there’s no guarantee the cabins will be next to each other. They will be on the same deck and same side, but there could be several cabins between them.

If you choose Fantastica, you’ll get to pick where on the ship your cabin will be, and if you choose Aurea you can book one of the suites.

This includes a range of normal suites, and the option of booking in the MSC Yacht Club, an exclusive part of your MSC ship that features on most newer MSC ships. These come with a range of additional perks such as a pillow menu, access to exclusive lounge and sun deck areas, and a welcome package with Prosecco and chocolates.

Regardless of whether you choose the cheapest Bella Inside cabin or the fanciest Aurea suite, you’ll always get a minibar, a TV, a safe, a hairdryer, air-con and a telephone. But you won’t always get a bed!

One cruise ship has solo rooms with sofa beds instead of a proper bed – so be warned!

Read more: MSC Bella Vs Fantastica Vs Aurea

2. Food

As with other cruise lines, MSC offers a wide range of food at no extra cost for your cruise fare.

You can enjoy the Main Dining Room or the buffet, along with a small range of other casual venues for items like burgers or pizza, and you won’t have to pay anything.

A plate of food featuring a sesame seed bun burger with a vegetable patty and sundried tomatoes, accompanied by a generous portion of golden French fries. The meal is set on a white tablecloth with silverware and a glass of sparkling water visible in the background.

But each MSC ship also has a range of speciality restaurants. These include steakhouses such as Butcher’s Cut, a variety of Asian restaurants such as the Kaito Sushi Bar or Oriental Plaza, and various other international venues including the Hola Tapas Bar, or the Indochine Restaurant. The specific venues will depend on which ship you choose.

For these restaurants, you’ll either need to pay a fixed price to dine there, or they will offer an a la carte menu, with the costs added to your account that you’ll need to settle at the end of the cruise.

A promotional banner for MSC Cruises advertises "Speciality Dining Packages" with options including Duo (two speciality dining experiences for €75), Trilogy (three speciality dining experiences for €95), The Finest Four (four speciality dining experiences for €125), L'Atelier Grill Chef's Table (€85), and Dinner and Bubbles (€115). The banner features images of gourmet food and happy diners.

MSC also offers the option of paying for a dining package. You can choose between one to five meals, and by paying in advance you can save up to 40% of the cost of paying for each meal individually when you’re on the ship.

So, that’s another way you can budget in advance and still enjoy all the experiences of your cruise ship.

3. Drinks

On an MSC cruise, there are a small selection of drinks that you’ll be able to enjoy at no extra charge – tap water, basic coffee and tea, ice tea, and juices at breakfast. But for everything else – sodas, bottled water, and alcoholic drinks, you’ll need to pay.

Cruise Mummy raises a glass of amber-colored beverage in the Main Dining Room on an MSC cruise ship, with elegant décor and attentive staff in the background, capturing a moment of joy and fine dining on a luxury voyage.

You can pay for drinks individually, if you want. A glass of soda costs around $2.25, a beer will cost around $6, and a cocktail can vary between $7 and $16 depending on how fancy a drink you’re looking for.

Read more: MSC Cruises Drinks Menus with Prices

If you’re someone who likes to drink a lot (not just booze, but soft drinks too) then it’s worth considering a drinks package. With these, you’ll pay in advance for the duration of the cruise and then be able to enjoy unlimited drinks within your package.

There are three packages that include alcohol – Premium, Easy Plus, and Easy. There’s also an alcohol-free package that covers sodas, bottled water, speciality coffees and even soft-serve ice cream, and there’s a Minors package for younger guests.

A promotional banner for MSC Cruises highlights various drink packages with pricing. The options include the Easy Package (€47 per adult/day), Easy Plus Package (€63 per adult/day), Premium Extra Package (€87 per adult/day), Dine & Drink Package (€15 per meal or €9 per meal/day), Alcohol-Free Package (€29 per adult/day), and Minors Package (€20 per child/day). The banner features images of beverages and encourages guests to upgrade their drink packages.

The cost for the packages will vary depending on where you’re sailing and how long you’re cruising – British guests will pay between £64 and £77.05 per day for the Premium Extra package, for example.

Never jump into buying a drinks package without doing some basic budgeting first, as you might overpay if you don’t drink much each day. My drinks package calculator can help you work it out.

One thing to be mindful of is that the mini bar costs extra, even if you have a drink package. The only way you get to enjoy your mini bar for free is if you stay in the Yacht Club.

A minibar price list from MSC Cruises displays various items and their prices. Spirits include gin, vodka, and whisky at £9 each. Soft drinks like fruit juice, sodas, and ice tea are priced at £3.5 each. Mineral water ranges from £2.5 to £3.5, and beers such as Heineken and Beck's cost £8 each. Snacks, including peanuts, chocolate-covered peanuts, mixed nuts, and chips, are priced between £3.5 and £4.5. The form includes spaces for cabin number, quantity consumed, and total cost.

4. Room Service

On every MSC cruise, guests are welcome to enjoy room service on those occasions where they would rather dine in their room, or they just want a snack. 

A breakfast menu card from MSC Cruises allows guests to indicate their desired quantity for each item.

If you’ve booked the Fantastica or Aurea experiences, then room service is available 24-hours a day and there’s no charge at all for delivery. Some free items are available on the menu, but there are some that have a charge – you just won’t pay for the delivery.

If you’ve booked the cheaper Bella experience, then there will be a $4.99 delivery fee. This is per order, not per person, so you’ll only pay the single fee even if you’re ordering food for everyone in your cabin. You might also want to add a tip on for your budget, so bear that in mind.

5. Entertainment

MSC cruise ships offer a range of entertainment every evening, in the main theatre but also in some other venues around the ship. This can include singers, dancers, acted performances and more. Comedy isn’t too common, just because of the multi-lingual nature of the ships.

A vibrant stage performance on a cruise ship features a group of performers dressed in futuristic costumes under dynamic lighting. The background is illuminated with striking red and orange patterns, creating an energetic atmosphere. The audience is seated, watching the engaging and lively show.

None of this entertainment costs anything to enjoy – it’s all covered by the cost of the cruise fare.

It’s a nice way to pass the evening but make sure you head to the venue as early as you can if you want the best seats. The venues aren’t always designed very well and it’s not uncommon to be stuck behind a pillar, or for a venue to become very crowded.

6. Activities

MSC’s ships are packed with fun things to do during the day, but not all of them are covered by the cost of your cruise fare.

An arcade on a cruise ship features various games, including motorcycle racing simulators, air hockey, and other interactive attractions. The area is brightly lit with colorful neon lights, creating an exciting and playful atmosphere. Large windows offer a view of the sea, adding to the unique experience of gaming at sea.

The waterparks are free, so you can swim or ride the slides as much as you want, but pretty much everything else will have a fee that you’ll need to pay. Some examples include:

  • Bowling – typically £25 for 30 minutes
  • Flight Simulator – £15 per go
  • Formula 1 Simulator – £12 per go
  • Arcade games – between £1.50 and £5
  • 4D Cinema – £8

Those prices can quickly add up. But there is a way you can save – you can buy a Fun Pass.

A sign about the MSC fun pass that is on display for people to see

The Fun Pass works differently depending on which ship you’re cruising on – for some, it offers all-inclusive activities, while on others, it gives you a set amount of bonus credit. So if you paid £100, you’d get £40 extra free to spend on the activities on the ship.

Paying for a Fun Pass doesn’t just save you money, it also makes it easier to budget for the activities. You can set a rule where, once the Fun Pass is spent, that’s the activities budget done.

Read more: Is the MSC Fun Pass Worth It?

7. Kids’ Clubs

MSC Cruises has some excellent kids clubs onboard, and is one of the few cruise lines to properly cater for babies. So it’s an even bigger relief to know that the kids’ clubs on the ship are available at no extra charge.

Two children pose happily with certificates in front of a large LEGO sailor statue at an MSC Cruise Kids' Club. The boy on the left holds colorful streamers and a "Congratulations" certificate, while the girl on the right, wearing a Minnie Mouse hoodie and a face mask, holds a similar certificate and streamers. The background features bright colors and playful decorations, enhancing the fun atmosphere.

You can even enjoy free babysitting for babies and toddlers during the day in one-hour slots, so that you can enjoy your lunch and dinner in peace if you want to. You just need to make sure you’ve booked using the registration form.

Group babysitting is also available for children late at night, if you want to enjoy the nightlife on your ship. It’s available for children aged 3 and up, provided they are potty trained, and it costs $6 per child for the first hour, or $10 per child for the full three hours. The service is offered between 11 pm and 2 am.

8. Service Charges

As if the different experience fares you can book with MSC weren’t confusing enough, there’s one more quirk of MSC that can make budgeting a little tricker – daily gratuities. And that’s because sometimes they’re included, and sometimes they aren’t.

A crew member wearing a mask and uniform serves a guest seated on the deck of a cruise ship. The guest, a bald man with tattoos, is receiving a drink from a cart filled with various beverages. The scene takes place under a bright, sunny sky, with the ship's sleek exterior and other passengers in the background.

If you’re cruising from the UK, then the tips will be included. If you’re cruising from the US, then they won’t be, and you should expect to pay up to $14 per person, per day on your cruise.

For cruises in Europe it can vary but the cost will be similar if they aren’t included – make sure you check.

You’ll also want to remember other tips that you might want to pay – such as the luggage porters at port. It’s custom to give them a small tip and it helps to make sure they look after your bags for you.

9. WiFi

Kids using the internet

WiFi internet access is almost never included as standard with a cruise fare, and with MSC that’s no different – if you want to get online, you’ll need to pay extra.

The good news is that MSC’s packages are very well priced, with some of the lowest WiFi charges of any cruise line.

And, you aren’t forced to pay for the full duration of your cruise if you don’t want to – you can pay by the day, though it does work out a lot cheaper to pay for a full week.

There are three packages you can pick from:

  • Social – grants access to popular social media apps such as Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Pinterest, but you won’t be able to use them for video calls
  • Surfer – everything in the Social package, but access to the web/emails
  • Streamer – full access to the internet including video and audio streaming.
WiFi PackageCost Per DayCost For A 7-Night Cruise
SocialFrom €3.90From €14.90
SurferFrom €9.90From €29.90
StreamerFrom €19.90From €59.90

If you don’t want to pay for the WiFi, you can usually find free WiFi while you’re in port – chain restaurants, some bars and hotels are good places to try. Just make sure your phone is on airplane mode at other times, as roaming charges (especially at sea) can be astronomical.

10. Laundry

If you’re on a shorter MSC cruise, you’ll probably never need to use the laundry services, but for longer cruises, it can be more cost-effective to have some clothes washed instead of buying a whole holiday wardrobe.

MSC doesn’t offer self-service laundry unlike some other cruise lines, which means you have to use the laundry service. You can pay per item, or you can pay for a laundry package.

This image is a pricing list for laundry services on an MSC cruise. It details the costs in pounds and euros for various types of clothing items for both gentlemen and ladies, such as shirts, trousers, dresses, and skirts, along with the cost for other items like pillowcases and blankets. The list is presented in multiple languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian.

On a per-item basis, expect to pay around €3 per t-shirt or €9 for a dress. Packages start at €15 which gets you 10 items – so you can save a lot buying a package instead of paying for everything individually.

11. Flights and Transfers

One thing that isn’t included with an MSC cruise fare as standard is your flights. It’s possible to book a package through the cruise line, but most of the fares you see advertised will be cruise only.

A view from an airplane window shows the wing of the aircraft against a backdrop of a clear blue sky and the sun shining brightly. Below, a landscape of fields and rivers is partially covered in snow, with clouds scattered across the horizon, creating a serene and picturesque aerial scene.

Often you can save by booking your flights separately, either yourself or by using a travel agent to put together a package for you. You just need to be aware that, if something happens to your flight, the cruise ship won’t wait for you. 

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your embarkation port, and make sure you have insurance. If you can, it’s best to fly the day before and book an overnight hotel so that you’re guaranteed to make the ship in time.

Don’t forget transfers, too – you need to get from the airport to the cruise port after all, and that’s another cost to factor in.

And if you’re sailing from Southampton (or from a port that’s in your own country) then you’ll need to still think about how you’re getting there. If you’re using public transport, budget for those costs, and if you’re driving, you’ll need to think about parking.

Suggested read: How To Get To Southampton Cruise Terminal by Train

12. Shore Excursions

Shore excursions aren’t included in your cruise fare, and depending on the type of excursion, they can be pretty expensive if you book through the cruise line.

My son on an MSC shore excursion. He smiles with his arms outstretched, standing in front of the iconic Stonehenge monument. He is wearing a black hoodie with a "Love Our Planet" design and blue shorts featuring a Mickey Mouse patch. The grassy field and ancient stones create a historic and picturesque backdrop under a cloudy sky.

You have alternative options – in some ports, you might not need an excursion, and you can just wander off on your own to explore.

In others, look for local bus services or book excursions with a third party. You can often save a lot doing this, but the downside is that there’s a risk the ship will leave you behind if your excursion delays you in any way.

You could, of course, just stay on the ship – nobody’s forcing you to get off an explore, and this is a great way of keeping costs down.


Don’t miss the latest MSC Cruises offers…

To Conclude

MSC Cruises can be very cheap, though for the lowest fares, you might end up with a cabin in a less-than-ideal location. You also need to think about drinks prices, and the activities you want to enjoy around the ship.

Look into the extra packages that are available. You can make your MSC cruise all-inclusive (or as good as) if you pay for a drinks package and a Fun Pass, but only if you’ll definitely make use of them.

With a bit of planning, and working out how much you’re likely to spend on extras, you can make sure you’ve budgeted for a great cruise with MSC.

Related Posts

If you found this interesting, please share!

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.

Read more about me

Leave a comment