MSC Cruises MSC Meraviglia ship review

Editor’s note: TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek accepted a free trip from MSC Cruises to sail from MSC Meraviglia’s new homeport in Brooklyn in New York City. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.

For the first time, MSC Cruises has based a ship in New York. Given that the vessel, MSC Meraviglia, is the fifth-largest in the line’s fleet of two dozen ships in terms of tonnage and the sixth-largest by passenger capacity, the ship’s presence in the Big Apple is a big deal. As one colleague astutely pointed out, when it’s docked there, it’s the largest hotel in the city.

I recently sailed on MSC Meraviglia out of its Red Hook home port in Brooklyn, and I have mixed feelings. Overall, the ship is lively and aesthetically beautiful. Its specialty restaurants and nightly shows are some of the most consistently superb on any vessel, and it offers one heck of a luxury product in its Yacht Club suite enclave.

MSC Meraviglia docked at private island Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

However, passenger flow is an issue, with many public spaces so crowded they’re uncomfortable, and service is painfully slow in some bars and restaurants. You’ll likely end up paying a lot more than you originally planned because some of the most enticing things to do come with added fees. And, as my travel companion so succinctly put it, I’ve never been told “no” so many times on a cruise.

Here, I’ll take you through some of the activities I tried, the places I ate and the experience I had so you can better determine if MSC Meraviglia is right for your next voyage.

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Overview of MSC Meraviglia

The Infinity Atrium on MSC Cruises’ MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia was the first in the line’s Meraviglia class of ships. When it debuted in 2017, it became the line’s largest vessel, with space for up to 5,655 people at capacity (4,475 at double occupancy). It has since been overtaken, in terms of passenger capacity, by subsequent vessels in the Meraviglia class, as well as those in the World class.

The ship exudes the same glitz that’s typical of other MSC vessels, despite its mass-market appeal and penchant for attracting budget travelers. Lavish artwork, chrome accents and bold jewel tones convey a sense of opulence throughout public spaces, and no ship in the fleet would be complete without an atrium staircase adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals.

A selection of candy and chocolate from Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Cafe on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Like MSC’s other modern ships, MSC Meraviglia has an extra-fee chocolate shop on board — this one through a partnership with chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury — where you can purchase chocolate, macarons, candy and specialty coffees.

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There’s also a sizable water park on the top deck, a shopping mall-style promenade area and several decks of cabins that are part of the line’s Yacht Club, which affords passengers exclusive access to a dedicated restaurant, lounge, bar and pool deck just for them, as well as butler service.

What I loved about MSC Meraviglia

Kaito Teppanyaki on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Largely, my onboard experience was great. Crew members were friendly, my cabin was comfortable, and the daily activity options were plentiful, varied and fun. At night, most shows fell into the “excellent” category, and the food in every extra-fee restaurant and the Yacht Club was phenomenal.

Specialty dining

MSC’s food consistently receives less-than-stellar reviews from passengers, particularly regarding the line’s complimentary dining experiences. Much of the main dining room fare is indeed so-so — palatable but largely underseasoned and mass-produced, so that it often looks like it’s been sitting under a heat lamp when it reaches you. Food in the buffet is varied and tasty, but it can also become repetitive after a week, and the space is frequently crowded and confusing to navigate.

So why am I including food under the “what I loved” category? I think that MSC’s alternative, for-fee restaurants — including the ones on MSC Meraviglia — are some of the best. If you’re willing to shell out the money, you can have a fantastic meal on this ship.

Of the ship’s specialty restaurants, my favorites are Hola! Tacos & Cantina and Kaito Teppanyaki.

Hola! Tacos & Cantina on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Even though Hola! levies extra charges, passengers have the option of paying a la carte for items individually priced as low as $2.95 or paying $17.99 for unlimited menu items. The salsa and guacamole are wonderful, the tortilla soup always hits the spot for me, and the tacos are small, so you’ll be able to try several to find your favorite without feeling overstuffed.

If you know me, you know the fact that I’m recommending Kaito Teppanyaki is shocking. I’m notoriously not a fan of this type of cooking, particularly when it comes with a side of cringeworthy performances by the chefs. However, the food there on MSC Meraviglia was so great that I didn’t mind the cook’s jokes.

Yacht Club

The exclusive Yacht Club Restaurant on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The MSC Yacht Club is a private section on select MSC ships that offers cabins across several categories, including suites. Passengers booked in those cabins have special keycard access to a dedicated guest services and concierge desk; an exclusive pool, sun deck, lounge and bar (with free drinks); and complimentary anytime dining at a special restaurant just for Yacht Club cruisers.

Cabins are outfitted with higher-quality materials and furnishings, and each comes with the services of a butler. Meri was mine, and she was the best. She was able to make dining and spa reservations for me, escort me to priority seating in the theater for nightly shows and have crackers and green apples delivered to my cabin when the second night’s rough seas made me feel seasick.

My butler, Meri, brought me a dinner of crackers and green apples when I felt seasick. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I absolutely loved the special touches MSC provides to Yacht Club passengers, including a special afternoon tea service and a private, intimate final-night performance by Lorraine Crosby — the female vocalist from Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” — who sometimes makes guest appearances on board. (She also put on two larger shows for the entire ship earlier in the sailing.) Additionally, I had access to Yacht Club perks at private island Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, including dedicated trams, a shaded waiting area with cold water and access to a private beach and restaurant.

Exclusive afternoon tea in the Yacht Club on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although the Yacht Club comes at a premium — at the time of publication, rooms on MSC Meraviglia started at $1,199 per person for a Yacht Club inside cabin on a six-night Bermuda sailing — fares include drinks and tips, along with Venchi pillow chocolates, free room service and minibar selections, plus one round of in-cabin snacks and a choice of one bottle of vodka, gin or whiskey delivered to your room. (I normally drink rum, and they were able to substitute it for me, even though it’s not one of the spirits normally offered.)

Above all, the most valuable component of the Yacht Club for me on this sailing was the ability to escape the general chaos that is the rest of the ship. Don’t get me wrong: I immersed myself in the buzz outside of the Yacht Club as often as possible, but as an introvert who dislikes crowds and noise more and more the older she gets, I found it essential to have a separate area to which I could retreat.

Galleria Meraviglia

Galleria Meraviglia on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

One of the most fun and flashy locations on MSC Meraviglia cruises is the Galleria Meraviglia, a central indoor walkway similar to the Royal Promenade on Royal Caribbean ships. It’s a long space flanked by bars, restaurants and shops with a feel similar to a shopping mall. However, the highlight for me is the giant LED screen, which runs the length of the space and hosts what the line calls “dome shows.”

During these shows, themed scenes — including deck plans for the muster drill, dinosaurs and volcanos during the “Jurassic” dome show and even famous ceilings — appear overhead. They’re the metaphorical heartbeat of the ship, and you can’t help but stop to watch.

Deck plans indicating muster stations are displayed on the ceiling of Galleria Meraviglia during each voyage’s muster drill. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The nearby chocolateria, Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Cafe, is an excellent place to grab a cuppa, and the adjacent Meraviglia Bar & Lounge is home to trivia, live music and more. Mix in a shore excursion desk; shops that sell high-end jewelry and purses; a counter serving for-fee gelato, crepes and smoothies; and Hola! Tacos & Cantina (one of the best Mexican restaurants at sea), and Galleria Meraviglia feels like the place to be.


One of two Formula One simulators at the Sportplex on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

There’s little I enjoy more than a relaxing arcade day, and MSC delivers with its Sportplex gaming complex. It features a small traditional arcade with air hockey, alien shooter games and first-person driving games, as well as prize machines; several immersive virtual-reality pods (most of which were down for maintenance during my sailing); two Formula One racing simulators; a 4D cinema where several players attempt to take out zombies and killer clowns; and a sports court that hosts basketball, pickleball, dodgeball and other activities.

But my ultimate favorite was the bowling alley. My travel companion and I inexplicably wound up in Sportplex after dinner on formal night. We played for half an hour — enough time for two games if it’s only two people and you move quickly — and were ultimately joined by the Yacht Club director, Craig (who won easily). It was a ton of fun, but I don’t recommend bowling in a ballgown.

Bowling at Sportplex on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The drawback is that, like lots of other cool pastimes on MSC Meraviglia, it all costs extra (except for sports court use). The arcade charges per game with the tap of your keycard. The simulators can be purchased on a per-ride basis, and bowling is charged in chunks of either 30 or 60 minutes.

To save money, passengers can purchase packages where you get a certain dollar amount free. (For example, if you prepurchase $150 worth of gaming credits, your card will be loaded with $220.)

What I didn’t love about MSC Meraviglia

As with all things, in travel we take the bad with the good. While most experiences on this sailing fell in the latter category, it wouldn’t be a fair review without calling attention to the things that I think the line needs to address.

The departure port

MSC Meraviglia docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

When MSC first announced that MSC Meraviglia would be sailing from New York, the ship’s home port was Manhattan. I groaned when I heard its docking spot had changed to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

Brooklyn’s terminal is difficult to reach, particularly if you don’t have a car. Anyone venturing to the port from Manhattan will need to take the subway, followed by a ferry — not an easy feat if you’re toting luggage. Park-and-ride-style buses also seemed to be an option, according to several passengers on my sailing who arrived from outside of the city. If you’re like me and decide to drive to the port, know that parking is at a premium, and fees are steep. (At $45 per night, I paid $360 to park there for eight nights.)

The Statue of Liberty is easily visible from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Waits on embarkation day are another concern. When I arrived, lines snaked outside the terminal and down the sidewalk in front of the building. I had multiple passengers throughout my voyage tell me that they waited between two and three hours in line to board the vessel.

It’s unclear whether the terminal is ill-equipped to deal with passenger flow for such a large ship or if MSC hasn’t quite brought its embarkation processes up to speed, but if you don’t have priority boarding privileges, either through a high loyalty status tier or a Yacht Club booking, expect the process to take a while.

On the plus side, you’ll have great views of the Statue of Liberty as you sail away, assuming the weather isn’t rainy or foggy.


Public areas often feel crowded on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

At 19 decks, MSC Meraviglia is huge. On my voyage, the ship was only sailing at about half capacity (about 3,000 passengers out of a possible 5,655, or 53%). However, a perfect storm of events converged to create a situation that was less than pleasant for anyone not booked in a Yacht Club cabin.

A large group booking of about 1,000 people overtook many of the public areas on a daily basis, which drew complaints from cruisers who weren’t in the group. For example, trivia was standing-room-only on several days, and the buffet was so continuously crowded that I ate there only twice on the entire voyage.

Additionally, it rained during our first two days on board — embarkation day and the following sea day — meaning that the ship’s outdoor spaces weren’t utilized. Because everyone was stuck inside, the ship felt even more crowded. (I shudder to imagine what it would have been like if the ship had been sailing completely full.)

A large group made up about one-third of the passengers on my MSC Meraviglia sailing. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although the weather certainly isn’t the cruise line’s fault, it seems that the ship should be better equipped to deal with situations where passengers are stuck inside. I also thought that, perhaps, the large group booking was a one-off and that it wouldn’t be the norm on other sailings. However, I spoke with one of the officers on board who told me that the cruise line is actively recruiting similar large group bookings.

One of the biggest contributing factors was the ship’s layout and flow. Some areas lead to dead ends, while others force you to enter busy areas — like the massive Marketplace Buffet — to find stairs to go up or down a deck. In several bars and lounges in the main atrium, tables and chairs are scattered so close to the main staircase that it’s difficult for two-way passenger traffic to move through the space.

The feeling of overcrowding was exacerbated by service inconveniences like long waits for drinks, meals and elevators.

Confusing policies and procedures

Passengers walk a lap through the theater on MSC Meraviglia during the ship’s muster drill. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Some of the things MSC does truly confuse me, and they began almost immediately after boarding.

When cruises first returned following the 18-month COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, many lines decided to go digital with their muster drills. Passengers watched videos on their mobile apps or on their cabin TVs before reporting, at their leisure (to maintain social distancing), to their muster stations for verification. MSC has chosen to institute a bizarre version where all passengers watch a video and then report to their muster stations at the same time.

If everyone is going to the same place at the same time, why not do the muster drill in person? On the flip side, if you’re going to make people watch a video instead of doing a live demonstration, why make everyone go to their stations simultaneously? The process creates a chaotic environment where, in my case, people were required to walk into the theater, do a lap around it (for reasons nobody ever actually explained) and immediately exit again.

The Broadway Theatre on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Speaking of the theater, no drinks are allowed in there, which is odd, given that all other cruise lines allow passengers to order drinks during shows or at least carry them in with them to enjoy while they watch. We saw several surprised cruisers being told they had to dump their beverages or drink them before they’d be allowed inside.

The drink situation gets worse when you try to order cocktails in the ship’s restaurants. When I did so in one of the main dining rooms, I was told that only wine was available. When I visited the alternative eateries, I was told I could only order from what was on the menu, some of which wasn’t included with the beverage package. What’s the point of selling pricey beverage packages (which can cost more than $70 per person per day for the most expensive) if there are so many exclusions?

A specialty coffee drink from Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Cafe on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Specialty coffee from the onboard chocolate shop also isn’t included with the packages, nor are coffees on private island Ocean Cay, which leads me to my next head-scratcher. I had the single best coffee drink of my life when we called on Ocean Cay. The Coco-Nilla Latte is espresso, vanilla flavoring and coconut milk, and I loved it so much that I tried to have it replicated on board.

I went to three of the ship’s regular bars, each of which is equipped to make espresso that’s included in the line’s beverage packages, as well as the specialty coffee bar at the for-fee chocolate shop. At each location, I was given some sort of excuse:

“We don’t have vanilla syrup at this bar.”

“We don’t have coconut milk here.”

“Oh, those are only made at Ocean Cay.”

It’s likely if this happened on a ship in any other fleet, the response would have been, “We don’t have the ingredients, but let me see if we can find them.”

The crew culture on MSC Meraviglia seems to be one that either doesn’t encourage them or doesn’t allow them to go the extra mile. My request wasn’t a lavish one; vanilla syrup and coconut milk are standard accouterments at most cafes on land. The ship has a passenger-to-crew ratio of 3:1, which is better than that of other cruise lines with fares at a similar price point, so I don’t feel like I’m asking too much from an affordable cruise line.

The kids food section in the Marketplace Buffet on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I must also mention some weird food-related practices I saw on board. Both times I ate at the Marketplace Buffet, I witnessed crew members stopping adults from taking food from a particular section of kid-friendly foods. “No, those are for children only,” a crew member behind the counter told a parent who was trying to grab dessert for his son, who was outside by the pool.

“You mean I can’t take this out to my kid?” the guy asked in shock. The crew member told him he would have to go to the pool, get his son, bring him inside and have him pick out the dessert, which he grudgingly did. But talk about a disruptive experience.

On the other occasion, I saw a couple of adults eyeing the chicken nuggets that were on offer. They were forbidden by a crew member from taking any. I have never seen something so absurd on a sailing in my life. Children aren’t the only ones who enjoy chicken nuggets, nor are they the ones who pay the cruise fares. Adults, whether they have kids on board or not, should be allowed to eat whatever they wish from the buffet that they paid for — even if it comes from the children’s menu.

Another head-scratcher is you might still have to pay a supplement to eat in certain restaurants, even if you booked a dining package that includes a set number of specialty restaurants for a set fee. It depends on what you order.

For example, I had a dining package, but when I dined at Kaito Teppanyaki, the waiter informed me that there would be an extra $10 surcharge to order the Geisha and Samurai options and a $30 upcharge for the Emperor option. Again, what’s the point of selling dining packages if they don’t cover what they’re supposed to?

This sign in front of Waves indicates that passengers can dine for one hour only. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Additionally, on a ship of 3,000 people, MSC Meraviglia had only one of four main dining rooms open for lunch on a rainy sea day when everyone was stuck inside. It was open for one measly hour, from noon to 1 p.m. I saw the hours posted as I was passing by the line that was quickly forming, so I decided to eat there to evaluate the situation. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t great.

Finally, MSC Meraviglia’s sports equipment is kept under actual lock and key. You have to sign out everything from pickleball paddles to basketballs for use on the indoor sports court and volleyballs for the pits on Ocean Cay. However, when I tried to sign out a basketball during posted rental hours, the person working told me no and offered no explanation. When I checked with guest services, they told me that shouldn’t have happened. But it did. Twice.

The multipurpose indoor sports court at Sportplex on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

On a separate occasion, when my travel companion and I showed up for scheduled volleyball time, the attendant cut the game off at 45 minutes because he said he had to leave. When we asked if we could keep the ball to continue playing, he refused. There seems to be no flexibility, and staff members are not empowered to deviate from protocol on the fly, even when it makes sense.

Most cruise lines’ ships have unmonitored equipment available for passengers to use when the courts are open. It’s often stored in unlocked chests that passengers can access at any time. Sign-out, which seems like an unnecessary step, is not required with most other cruise lines, which brings me to this: To quote one of my TPG colleagues when she referenced an MSC sailing on a different ship, “I have never said, ‘No other cruise line does it like this,’ as much as I did on [my cruise]. And it wasn’t a good thing.”

MSC Meraviglia cabins and suites

Yacht Club Duplex Suite on MSC Meraviglia. IVAN SARFATTI/MSC CRUISES

MSC bookings can be confusing for first-timers because, in addition to selecting a cabin type (inside, outside, balcony or suite), passengers must also choose from one of three experience packages. Dubbed Bella, Fantastica and Aurea, they all come with different perks and inclusions, as noted below.

Bella: This is the most basic, bare-bones package. It includes accommodations, free meals in the main dining rooms and buffet, and free daily activities and nightly entertainment. Passengers with this package will be assigned to set-seating dining times after they board. They also will be charged for any room service orders, as well as changes to their cruise booking reservations.

Fantastica: This package includes everything listed under the Bella package, plus the ability to change sailing date reservations one time for free, complimentary delivery of room service breakfast and the ability to choose a preferred set-seating dining time for dinner prior to embarkation.

Aurea: Aurea comes with everything in the Bella and Fantastica packages, as well as free access to the ship’s top-deck Solarium area, a welcome package that includes prosecco and chocolates, anytime dining (go whenever you want with no set seating time), a 10% discount on spa treatments, priority boarding and free 24-hour room service (not just at breakfast).

MSC Cruises’ three experience packages. MSC CRUISES

MSC Meraviglia houses 2,244 rooms in various types with several configurations, some of which sleep more than two passengers. Of those staterooms, 55 are accessible for cruisers with mobility issues. In those cabins, passengers will find additional space for maneuvering things like wheelchairs and scooters, as well as zero-entry door thresholds and shower grab bars. (Theaters and most public areas are also accessible, but unfortunately, I didn’t see a single lift at any of the ship’s four pools.)

Cabin types are the standard ones found on just about all cruise ships: inside or interior (no windows or balcony), outside or ocean-view (a window or porthole that doesn’t open), balcony or verandah (a sliding glass door that opens onto a small balcony, usually with chairs and a small table) and suite (cabins with balconies and more square footage and/or special perks like those afforded in the Yacht Club).

On my Meraviglia sailing, I was booked in an MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suite — a balcony cabin in the Yacht Club suite area — on Deck 18. At about 280 square feet, plus an additional 54 square feet of balcony space, the room felt generously sized for two people. (Note: Yacht Club has all types of cabins, from insides all the way up through massive Royal Suites and two-deck duplexes.)

My balcony cabin in the Yacht Club on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The room was furnished with a king-size bed that converts into two twins on request, a couch and a desk/vanity area. It featured a closet and cabinet space for storage and an en suite bathroom.

Standard amenities included a hair dryer and a TV (with a random smattering of TV channels, for-fee movies and ship-created programs like jewelry and port seminars and navigational information). My cabin had several electrical outlets, including three 110-volt North American outlets, three 220-volt European outlets and one USB port at the desk/vanity area. One USB port is not enough, and there were no outlets near the bed, which was frustrating.

Special for Yacht Club guests, the suite was equipped with a Nespresso machine, free minibar drinks restocked daily (including bottled water, San Pellegrino, juices, flavored iced teas, soda and beer), one complimentary round of snacks (Toblerone chocolate, Pringles and mixed nuts) and a choice of one complimentary bottle of spirits (whiskey, gin or vodka).

My cabin came with a pillow menu, which I only discovered after two nights of neck pain, thanks to mismatched pillows. The bed was topped with a memory foam mattress, which was like sleeping on a cloud.

One of two closets in my balcony Yacht Club cabin on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Closets in my cabin were just the right size for two people. There were two, one with a bar to hang clothes and another with cubbies for shoes, intimates and the cabin safe. I did find the closets’ location in a small enclave that led to the bathroom a bit awkward.

Underbed storage was perfect for hiding empty suitcases. Bathrobes and slippers were provided, and I made good use of both when I went for a massage at the spa.

Cabin bathrooms in the Yacht Club are stocked with MSC’s own brand of toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, bar soap, a shower cap and sewing kit. Fluffy white towels and elevated fixtures like marble countertops and floors and showers with both standard and rainfall showerheads add to the air of elegance.

The bathroom in my balcony Yacht Club cabin on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

However, some of that was offset by the fact that the shower in my bathroom had no lip, so water leaked all over the first time I used it. Each time after, I put towels outside the door to sop up the mess. The toilet also often smelled like sewage, even when not in use.

The storage space for toiletries could also have been more generous. There were only two small metal shelves, which weren’t enough for two people’s things. The rest had to be stored inside cabinets where the garbage can was located.

Gratuities, room service and premium alcohol and Wi-Fi packages are included in all Yacht Club fares. You do not need to purchase add-ons or pay added fees like you would in cabins outside the Yacht Club.

A Yacht Club booking also entitles you to priority embarkation, disembarkation and tender access; 24-hour butler and concierge services; complimentary spa thermal suite access; luggage unpacking and repacking services; daily newspaper delivery and one free pre-cruise booking change.

A massage treatment room in the Aurea Spa on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I made good use of the free Wi-Fi inclusion (for two devices per person). The free room service was handy when I just had to order late-night pizza. Plus, the priority boarding perk meant we went from shore to ship in less than 10 minutes while other passengers waited two to three hours in rainy conditions to embark.

My butler, Meri, went above and beyond to help me make spa and specialty restaurant reservations, and she met us each evening to escort us to dinner and to the theater, where reserved Yacht Club seating was waiting. She did her job superbly, but I generally like to do things for myself. Having someone else handling the minutia felt frivolous and unnecessary; it took a few days for me to acclimate.

Part of the afternoon buffet offered on the Yacht Club sun deck on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Concierge service was generally good. However, on the first day, when I had questions about dining, the person who assisted me waived me off in the face of a long line at the desk and told me to ask my butler. My interactions there improved markedly after the stress of the first day calmed down, and all of my subsequent questions were answered promptly and cheerfully.

The private Yacht Club pool on the suite enclave’s dedicated sun deck. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The exclusive Top Sail Lounge was a great place to relax with a drink and view, read or get some work done. The Yacht Club sun deck was a lovely space, but it was often too hot for me, so I didn’t spend much time up there. The area was home to a pool, a hot tub, tons of seating, solarium access and a daily outdoor buffet at the Yacht Club Grill. Although the food looked tasty, it was, unfortunately, often surrounded by flies.

The indoor Yacht Club Restaurant, however, was a dream. Everything I ordered was fantastic — flavorful, well prepared and cooked to order instead of looking like it had been sitting out for a while. I particularly enjoyed the breakfasts there and highly suggest the omelets and pancakes.

Overall, I found my Yacht Club experience to be a great way to escape when other areas of the ship felt overwhelming, which they often did.

MSC Meraviglia restaurants and bars

L’Olivo D’Oro main dining room on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Included in the price of each sailing is free dining at the massive Marketplace Buffet, in one of four main dining rooms or in the Yacht Club Restaurant (depending on your booking). The four main dining rooms often felt crowded, and service was inconsistent. The buffet was even worse.

The quality of the complimentary food was unremarkable — not great but not terrible, either. Waiters in the dining rooms often seemed rushed and unwilling to fill drink orders. (I found out later it’s because the galleys don’t have bars, so waiters have to run all over the ship to fill drink orders, which often take an inordinate amount of time to arrive.)

The “Ethnic” food station at the Marketplace Buffet on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Due to its size, MSC Meraviglia can offer lots of different cuisines. While the Marketplace Buffet has an “ethnic” section typically serving Asian and Indian fare, the largest variety and the highest quality come from the specialty restaurants. They include seafood, steak, Mexican, sushi and teppanyaki, and all cost extra.

MSC offers dining packages, which allow passengers to pre-purchase a set number of meals in alternative restaurants. When those meals are cashed in, cruisers can choose from a preselected list of menu items designated for package holders. Generally, if you’re planning to eat at more than two or three specialty restaurants, booking a package will save you money.

There’s at least one bar in every public space, so you won’t have to go far to whet your whistle.


Free restaurants

The Panorama main dining room on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Waves, Panorama, L’Olive Doree and L’Olivo D’Oro are MSC Meraviglia’s four main dining rooms, where passengers can eat dinner for free. (Specific restaurants will also be open on certain days for breakfast and lunch, depending on the day’s schedule.) Menus, which change daily, are the same across all four.

Waves, on Deck 5, is the smallest. The largest — L’Olive Doree and L’Olivo D’Oro, which are mirrors of one another — are found on Deck 6, across from one another and flanking the hallway that eventually leads to Panorama. All four dining rooms offer set seating, except Panorama, which also accommodates passengers with Aurea bookings who have anytime dining.

As mentioned above, I was booked in the Yacht Club and dined in either the Yacht Club Restaurant or one of the specialty restaurants for dinner each night.

The crowded Waves main dining room on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

However, I did try lunch in Waves twice, as it was the only main dining room open to the ship’s 3,000 passengers for lunch. The first time, we were seated at a table for two that might as well have been a table for six; it was so close to the tables for two on either side of it that there were only about 2 or 3 inches separating them.

After we sat, it took 15 minutes for someone to bring us water. We never received bread. It was another 10 minutes until our waiter took our food order, and not once did anyone ask us if we’d like something other than water to drink. When my travel companion finally requested a beer, the waiter’s response was, “Be patient, sir.” My jaw dropped.

A spinach artichoke dip appetizer in the Waves main dining room on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The pacing between courses was silly. Our appetizers arrived shortly after we ordered, which was great, but mine — spinach and artichoke dip — arrived looking dried out and crusty with five broken chips on the side. (The waiter obliged when I requested a few more.) After the starters were cleared, it was another 10 minutes until our mains were delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed my cobb salad, but my beef burrito was build-your-own style, and it was largely flavorless.

My companion never did see the beer he ordered. Eventually, we gave up and left, as did the man at the table next to us, who said he had been waiting half an hour for a dessert that didn’t materialize.

A fajita main course in the Waves dining room on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The second experience was significantly better, with our waiter seating us at a table for two near a window and asking if we wanted drinks (which arrived quickly). The food was still just OK, and both experiences were crowded and exceptionally loud.

MSC Meraviglia’s buffet, Marketplace, spans the entire aft of Deck 15. It has a decent variety of stations, but the food is often the same from day to day. The layout is confusing to navigate, too, with lots of nooks and crannies that can make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. It was crowded beyond reason during mealtimes, so I avoided it whenever possible, only eating there twice during the voyage for research purposes.

The Marketplace Buffet almost always felt crowded on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Stations include bread; salad; soup and pasta; a rotisserie section with a carving station and sides like mashed potatoes, rice and baked beans; cold cuts and cheeses; an “ethnic” counter, which tended to serve Asian and Indian cuisine; and outposts for desserts and both hot and cold drinks.

One of two pizza stations in the Marketplace Buffet on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The pizza was both a highlight and a pleasant surprise. It comes out hot and fresh, and it’s available by the slice in several types from two separate counters in the buffet.

There are some other small complimentary food locations throughout the ship, too, including a poolside grill with burgers, fries and hot dogs and an ice cream counter with free soft-serve in cones or cups and optional toppings.

Restaurants that cost extra

A trio of taco small bites from Hola! Tacos & Cantina on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Hola! Tacos & Cantina is the Mexican restaurant on MSC’s newest vessels. It offers tapas-style small plates; I highly encourage you to order a few, as there’s a lot on the menu that’s delicious. My favorites are the guacamole, tortilla soup and cheese quesadillas. For tacos, I highly recommend the Chipotle Carnitas (pulled pork with chipotle, black bean salsa and cilantro), Barbacoa (ancho-chili beef, chipotle and red cabbage) and Ancho Tingo (shredded chicken, poblano peppers and pico de gallo).

You can pay a la carte if you’re in the mood for something light or go with the all-you-can-eat option if you’ve worked up a serious appetite.

A margarita pitcher at Hola! Tacos & Cantina on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Margaritas are also a must if you’re craving an adult beverage. Basic margs are included in the line’s alcohol packages, but specialty ones — featuring frozen flavors like mango and strawberry and on-the-rocks selections with smoky salt or sweet berry sugar rims — cost extra, ranging from $11.99 for a single drink to $30 for a 1-liter pitcher. There’s also a selection of Spanish beer, fresh fruit juices, spiked milkshakes and other fun concoctions. The service was so great there that I returned on a different night just to order drinks.

A chef prepares dinner at Kaito Teppanyaki on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you’ve done one teppanyaki restaurant, you’ve done them all. Or at least that’s what I thought when I grudgingly made a reservation at Kaito Teppanyaki, another of MSC’s extra-charge dining choices.

Yes, the cheesy jokes, singalongs, “catch this food in your mouth when I throw it” challenges and other performative cooking are standard, but the actual dishes are so much tastier than any of a similar variety I’ve had on land. Top-notch quality and expert seasoning make the dishes stand out. (For context, I usually skip meat when I order teppanyaki, but the sirloin steak looked so good that I ordered it. I’m glad I did.)

The Samurai option at Kaito Teppanyaki on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Every person who orders receives miso soup and a small salad as starters, along with sushi and sashimi with tempura vegetables. Then they choose from one of several prix fixe menu options: Geisha (sea bass fillet and chicken breast), Samurai (Scottish salmon, tiger prawns and sirloin), Emperor (yellowfin tuna tataki, scallops and half of a Maine lobster), vegetarian (egg wash roll and sesame tofu steak) and a kids menu (spring chicken teriyaki with vegetables).

I ordered the Samurai, and the salmon and sirloin were absolutely delicious. All options include egg fried rice and a dessert of caramelized pineapple, ginger ice cream and mint. The latter was underwhelming. Drinks are limited to what’s on the Kaito-specific menu (Japanese beer, whisky and sake, plus a small selection of wine by the glass and Champagne by the bottle).

The Kaito Sushi Bar on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Kaito also has a separate sushi bar with an a la carte selection of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, tataki, yakitori and other items, including combo platters and desserts.

Butcher’s Cut, MSC Meraviglia’s a la carte steakhouse, is heaven for meat lovers, but vegetarians beware: As expected, there’s not a lot on the menu for you to eat, with the exception of some of the starters.

Butcher’s Cut steakhouse on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

When you arrive, your waiter will bring a breadbasket for the table. Ours included baguettes, raisin walnut bread and bacon cheese rolls, but what stood out to me were the smoked maple and paprika butters served alongside them. They were so good.

Appetizers include burrata and beet salad, Caesar and house salads, hearts of palm, a goat cheese tart, shrimp, crabcakes and oysters Rockefeller. Or, if you’re feeling extra-spendy, try one of the featured starters, such as caviar, a shellfish platter, bone marrow, Kobe sliders and foie deviled eggs. For soups, choose between smoked tomato and lobster chowder.

The beet and burrata appetizer at Butcher’s Cut steakhouse on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Non-steak mains consist of roasted chicken, scallops Benedict, halibut and sockeye salmon. However, if steak is what you’re after, you can choose from a 36-ounce dry-aged tomahawk for two, 24-ounce dry-aged T-bone, 12-ounce flat iron, 8-ounce filet mignon, 20-ounce rib-eye, 14-ounce New York sirloin, 16-ounce American bison and 13-ounce double lamb chops.

The surf-and-turf option from Butcher’s Cut steakhouse on MSC Meraviglia, including filet mignon and crab Oscar. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I ate there on one night of my sailing and decided to go big by adding jumbo lump crab to my filet mignon. However, I misread the menu and didn’t realize it was actually jumbo lump crab Oscar, which meant it arrived mixed with hollandaise sauce. It looked like scrambled eggs, and I’m not a hollandaise fan, so I didn’t eat it.

The steak, however, was phenomenal, particularly with the accompanying sauces (mushroom, peppercorn, chimichurri and bearnaise). Each steak comes with one side; additional sides cost extra. Choose from Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, French fries, asparagus, onion rings, macaroni and cheese, and more.

Among the dessert options, the best are the chocolate lava cake, the New York cheesecake and the peanut butter and milk chocolate cookie.

Sample dishes at Ocean Cay, MSC Meraviglia’s seafood restaurant. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I’m not a huge seafood fan, so I avoided Ocean Cay, but I heard rave reviews from other passengers. This intimate restaurant, found on Seaside-class ships and MSC Meraviglia, offers a menu of fresh fish and seafood dishes, as well as a selection of wines for appropriate pairing.

For a between-meal treat or a caffeinated pick-me-up, snacks and coffee tied to chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury are solid options. The cookies-and-cream gelato at the Jean-Philippe Crepes & Gelato counter is to die for, as is the Green Goddess smoothie, made with coconut juice, spinach, fresh mint, banana, passion fruit and lemon sorbet. They didn’t have the lemon sorbet when I ordered, but I asked to substitute mango instead. It was exceptionally good.

Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Cafe on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

At the cafe just across the way, you can buy chocolate replicas of the ship, chocolate bars with fun toppings like nuts and berries, macarons and candy by the pound, as well as gift boxes of sweets. It also sells coffee drinks that include espresso, cappuccino, Americano, lattes and spiked coffees.

If you’re a coffee lover who’s heading ashore at MSC’s private island, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, you won’t want to miss the extra-fee Coco-Nilla Latte, found at The Smiling Fish. A combination of espresso, vanilla syrup and coconut milk, either hot or iced, it’s far and away my favorite coffee drink anywhere, ever.

A meat lovers pizza ordered from room service on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

A more affordable option than most alternative restaurants is room service. My pick is the pizza, which will be delivered to your room hot and fresh, with a variety of options available, including Margherita, vegetable, pepperoni, four cheese, marinara, MSC style (tomato sauce, ham, arugula, mozzarella, Grana Padano cheese and olive oil) and supreme. It’s free if you’re staying in the Yacht Club. A la carte pricing and delivery fees will apply to other cabin types, depending on the experience package you book.


The Brass Anchor Pub on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As with most cruise ships, you don’t have to go far to find a stiff drink on MSC Meraviglia.

My go-to was the Brass Anchor Pub, reminiscent of an English local where you can snag a bottle or a pint and some extra-fee pub grub. TVs throughout the space broadcast a variety of sporting events (subject to satellite availability), and trivia and live music take place there throughout the sailing.

I also spent some time at the Imperial Casino Bar, which was open on my sailing longer than any of the other onboard watering holes. It serves a selection of beer and cocktails.

The Meraviglia Bar on the promenade on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The centrally located Meraviglia Bar & Lounge, found along Galleria Meraviglia (the ship’s promenade) next to Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Cafe, is also home to trivia competitions, live music and dancing throughout the day. It’s the bar often frequented by passengers before and after shows in the nearby Broadway Theatre.

Sky Lounge is the place to be for sweeping views through floor-to-ceiling windows. It provides a comfy and often quiet space to read, work or gather with friends.

If you’re seeking the oft-missed cigar lounge, look for the entrance on the starboard (right, when facing forward) side of the Sky Lounge entrance, or enter the lounge and follow it around to the starboard side.

The Purple Rain cocktail on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Edge Cocktail Bar is another centrally located place to grab beer, wine and specialty cocktails — including the delicious Purple Rain, a combo of vodka, white rum, blue curacao, gin, peach schnapps, sweet and sour, and grenadine that turns a shade of purple when you mix it. One deck above it is the Champagne Bar, which sometimes also serves seafood. One deck below is the Infinity Bar, so named because it’s found at the base of the Infinity Atrium.

The ship’s TV Studio & Bar is where you can find the cruise director filming the ship’s daily morning show the night before. It’s also the site of trivia competitions, several of which were standing-room-only.

The TV Studio & Bar on MSC Meraviglia was often packed for dance classes and trivia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

There’s a Sports Bar in the ship’s Sportplex, but I never saw it open, even when the area was crowded. Three bars (Atmosphere Bar North, Atmosphere Bar South and Bamboo Bar) by the main Atmosphere Pool serve up classic umbrella drinks, as well as beer and other libations. You’ll also find bars in the Marketplace Buffet, on the Yacht Club sun deck and in the Yacht Club Top Sail Lounge.

MSC Meraviglia activities

The fitness center on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

MSC Meraviglia hosts a variety of activities to keep you busy when you’re not ashore. You might start your day with a free guided morning stretch or aerobics, or pop into the gym for a self-led session or a for-fee class like yoga or spin.

The daytime schedule features plenty of options for those with a competitive spirit. They range from golf putting, foosball, Ping-Pong soccer and pickleball tournaments to giant darts and trivia (visual trivia like airline logos and “name that place,” as well as “name that tune” and general knowledge trivia).

The Snow Party on the pool deck of MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you’d rather get your groove on, keep an eye out for dance lessons and themed parties hosted by the entertainment team. My favorite was the Snow Party, when the crew blasted fake snow (which appeared to be suds of some sort) as we danced on the blazing hot pool deck.

Napkin folding, bingo, movie screenings, arts and crafts, and passenger talent shows (yes, you have to audition) round out the list of pastimes.

The “Jurassic” dome show on the Galleria Meraviglia ceiling on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As you pass back and forth between events, don’t miss the regularly scheduled dome shows along the Galleria Meraviglia promenade. You’ll see the LED projections on the ceiling, covering topics like famous ceilings, dinosaurs, space and the changing of the seasons.

Beware of seminars on jewelry, health and wellness, and other topics that are thinly veiled sales pitches.

The main Atmosphere Pool on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Feeling like a day of swimming or sunbathing? Pull up a lounge chair by the main Atmosphere Pool. If you’re looking for a more sauna-like experience, head to the Solarium’s covered Bamboo Pool; check out the aft Horizon Pool for better views and more peace and quiet. There’s also a small pool on the private Yacht Club sun deck.

Looking to relax in a hot tub instead? You can find two of them one deck up from the Atmosphere Pool, as well as two at the Bamboo Pool and one on Deck 18’s aft sun deck (behind Sportplex). There’s also one at the Yacht Club Pool.

The Polar Aquapark on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Polar Aquapark on Deck 19 aft offers plenty of wet fun for kids and adults. Attractions include three slides — a bowl slide, where riders awkwardly end in the bowl and then exit via a flight of steps, and two twisty slides that require rafts — and a splash area with sprayers and dump buckets. There’s no fee to use the space, but you’ll need to sign a waiver and obtain a wristband before riding the waterslides.

Speaking of children, the ship has a dedicated kids club, called Doremiland (named after the cruise line’s mascot, Doremi, as in the first three notes of a musical scale). The club is divided into Baby Club (infants and toddlers up to 3 years), Mini Club (ages 3 to 6 years), Junior Club (7 to 11 years), Young Club (12 to 14 years) and Teen Club (15 to 17 years).

Each group has age-appropriate activities scheduled, and all — except the tweens and teens, who can come and go as they please — are heavily supervised by qualified staff. Sample activities might include storytime, arts and crafts, and Lego playtime for younger children, while tweens and teens enjoy less structured pastimes like video games and dance parties.

MSC Meraviglia shows

The “House of Houdini” show in the Carousel Lounge on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As with most MSC ships, MSC Meraviglia’s entertainment is stellar. From free live music, theater shows and promenade dance parties to extra-fee Cirque du Soleil-style performances, the options are varied and feature talented singers, dancers, magicians, acrobats and more.

Free shows

Each production show is offered once per sailing, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the Broadway Theatre. Some are staples, while others rotate.

“Born to Rock,” “One Day More,” “Cool” and “Journey” are the ship’s recurring shows, which each appear once per weeklong cruise. They focus on popular songs in the rock ‘n’ roll and pop genres, Broadway hits, music from the ’70s and ’80s, and cultural favorites from Spain, Italy, France and more.

As part of a rotating selection of limited-time performers, English duo The Conjurors performed two shows during my sailing, featuring numbers games, mindreading and pre-show predictions that impressively came true by the end. The duo is scheduled for more than a dozen sailings. Other limited-engagement performers include comedians and pianists.

Lorraine Crosby performs in the Broadway Theatre on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Speaking of limited-time performances, on the second-to-last night of the voyage, I sat in the theater unsure of what to expect from the headliner, Lorraine Crosby. “You might be thinking, ‘She sounds like the lady who sings that Meat Loaf song.’ Well, that’s because I am the lady who sings that Meat Loaf song,” Crosby joked. Her biggest claim to fame is that she rocked the female vocals in Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t Do That.”

What followed was a vocal performance that gave me chills. Crosby’s range and ability to adapt to different genres are astounding. She belted out favorites by Queen, Tina Turner and Celine Dion and arguably did a better job of it than they did.

On the final night on board, she held an intimate performance for Yacht Club passengers in the suite area’s private lounge. Again, I shivered as she took on the likes of Adele, AC/DC and others.

A flash mob-style performance in the Galleria Meraviglia on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Another free entertainment option worth mentioning is daytime street theater that includes contortionists, roving musicians, magic workshops and flash mob-style performances by the onboard singers and dancers. If you happen to be passing through the promenade area when a flash mob happens, you’re likely to see a punk rock-themed song-and-dance routine or, perhaps, one where the cast is dressed up like flowers, insects and birds.

Shows for a fee

The “Rock Circus” show in the Carousel Lounge on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carousel Productions, MSC’s own brand of Cirque du Soleil-style shows, are offered six days a week on MSC Meraviglia, with each of two shows — “House of Houdini” and “Rock Circus” — running three nights, on alternating days, with two performances each night (8 p.m. and 10 p.m.). Originally designed to house dinner theater, the Carousel Lounge is set up as a theater in the round and no longer serves food. (That ended when the cruise line shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the line has no current plans to bring it back.)

The for-fee performances levy a nominal charge for attendance and include a welcome drink for each showgoer.

“Rock Circus” is a mix of acrobatics, aerial performances, and song and dance to some of rock’s greatest hits, including songs by Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC.

“House of Houdini,” which follows a clearer storyline than “Rock Circus,” loosely tells the tale of Houdini’s great underwater escape from a straitjacket and chains. A group of singers, dancers, acrobats and aerialists dressed as circus performers show Houdini the ropes as he prepares for his greatest feat.

MSC Meraviglia itineraries and pricing

MSC Meraviglia docked after dark during the lighthouse light show at private island Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Through at least September 2024, MSC Meraviglia is sailing seven- and eight-night voyages to Nassau and Ocean Cay Marine Reserve in the Bahamas from Brooklyn.

It also features six-night Bermuda cruises that spend three days docked at King’s Wharf, as well as 10- and 11-night Canada and New England sailings that feature calls on Boston; Portland, Maine; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Saint John, New Brunswick. The 11-night itinerary also visits Newport, Rhode Island.

A couple of 11-night Western Caribbean voyages visit Port Canaveral (the port for Orlando) and Miami in Florida, Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico and Ocean Cay.

MSC Meraviglia offers some of the lowest prices in the industry. At the time of publication, inside cabin prices were starting from $299 per person ($43 per person per night) for a seven-night Bahamas cruise, $379 per person ($63 per person per night) for a six-night Bermuda sailing, $449 per person ($41 per person per night) for an 11-night Western Caribbean voyage and $619 per person ($56 per person per night) for an 11-night trip to Canada and New England.

What to know before you go

Required documents


As with a sailing on any ship, there’s certain paperwork you’ll need to cruise on MSC Meraviglia. If you’re a U.S. citizen sailing from and returning to a U.S. port, you can sail with either an official copy of your birth certificate and a driver’s license (both are required) or a passport. I recommend the latter, and it must be valid for at least six months.


MSC Cruises adds an automatic service charge of $14.50 per person per day to final bills on all sailings. For children 2 and older, the daily charge is half, or $7.25.

Also, a 15% gratuity is added to bills at bars for cruisers who do not have a drinks package. If you have a drinks package, you’ll pay a 15% service charge when you purchase the package, but not on individual drinks. A 15% service charge is also added to items in minibars, salons and spas.


The MSC for Me app. MSC CRUISES

MSC Cruises’ Wi-Fi, available through the MSC for Me app, is fast enough to be competitive with all of the other major cruise lines. But pricing varies, based on the number of devices you use and whether you’re OK with simply browsing the web and checking e-mail or would prefer to use Netflix or other streaming services.

Expect to pay about $72 for one device with unlimited data on a basic package. A two-device plan for the same runs about $109. There’s also a four-device plan for about $223. If streaming video is what you’re hoping to do, you’ll need one of the more expensive plans, which range from about $100 to more than $300.

Be warned that plans are tied to specific devices, and you cannot switch between them. For example, if you buy a one-device package, you cannot use it for your cellphone, log out and then log back in with your tablet. In that case, you would need to purchase a two-device package.

MSC’s MSC for Me app allows passengers on the same ship to chat with one another for free without purchasing a Wi-Fi package. The app also lets you make dining reservations, check the daily schedule and view your onboard bill.

Carry-on drinks policy

MSC does not allow passengers to bring any of their own alcohol on board.

Smoking policy

A half-smoked cigarette on an ashtray. DEBASISH NANDY/GETTY IMAGES

Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is permitted in a few designated areas, including the port side of the main pool deck. It’s also allowed on one side of the casino. Nonsmokers, beware: The separate sides do nothing to keep the smell from wafting. It was enough to keep me away from the area for the duration of my sailing. Smoking isn’t allowed in cabins or on cabin balconies; violators will receive a $250 fine.


MSC Cruises does not offer self-service laundry facilities on any of its ships. However, passengers can send their clothing out to be washed, folded, pressed or dry-cleaned for a fee.

Electrical outlets

MSC Meraviglia’s cabins all have a mix of 110-volt North American outlets, 220-volt European outlets and USB ports. In my Yacht Club balcony stateroom, I had three North American outlets, three European outlets and one USB port, all at the desk/vanity area — none near the bed.


The onboard currency for MSC Meraviglia when it sails from New York is the U.S. dollar.

Drinking age

You must be 21 to consume alcohol on MSC Meraviglia’s sailings from the U.S.

Dress code

A group of friends in formal wear on a cruise. ER PRODUCTIONS LIMITED/GETTY IMAGES

Passengers on MSC Meraviglia’s warm-weather itineraries from Brooklyn can be found in T-shirts, shorts, bathing suits and cover-ups during the day, when there’s no set dress code.

The line’s American clientele tends to dress more casually at night, as well, but the line suggests “smart casual” attire for dinner. That might include khakis with button-down or polo-style collared shirts for men and sundresses or nice pants with a flowy top for women. Dark, unripped jeans are also acceptable for both men and women.

On “gala” evenings (usually one per weeklong sailing), the dress code is more refined. Passengers might choose to wear tuxedos, suits, khakis with button-downs and blazers, cocktail dresses or sparkly ball gowns.

On my sailing, the ship also had “tropical” and “white” listed on the daily schedule as suggested attire. Pack accordingly.

Bottom line

MSC Meraviglia is a beautiful ship with great food, shows and public spaces, but it has a few pain points.

In addition to feeling crowded, the vessel charges extra for many things that will make your overall cruise better. If you’re on a strict budget, either resign yourself to doing only the free activities and eating in the main dining room and buffet, or plan to sail with a different cruise line.

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