Big ship, small ships, relationships…

Looking at your first MSC cruise and wondering which ship to pick?

Seasoned cruisers will usually tell you they go on itinerary first and that the ‘hardware’ i.e. the ship, isn’t that important to them. But, you’ve seen online the pictures of Swarovski crystal stairs or cosmopolitan indoor promenades… Stories of zip wires high above the ocean… You have kids and a selection of log flumes is important to you… Or you don’t want to go on a mega ship and would prefer a smaller, more traditional ship.

Which ship should you go for?


Lirica Class

The Lirica Class of cruise ship are the oldest in the MSC fleet and also the smallest. These ships offer timeless elegance, and by the standards of other cruise lines are not actually that ‘old’ with MSC Armonia being 18 years old this year.


Ships in this class: MSC Armonia (2001), MSC Sinfonia (2002), MSC Lirica (2003),  and MSC Opera (2004).

What to expect: The Lirica class are around 65000 tonnes and carry approximately 2500 passengers at full capacity. This is small by modern standards but certainly not too small in our opinion.

We’ve sailed on all four of the ships in this class and had a wonderful holiday on each one of them. The addition of the children’s aqua park during the Renaissance Program when a new lounge and balcony cabins were added compliments the classic style of the ship. The ships were subject to an amazing engineering project which saw them cut open and extended.

The coffee lounge above guest services and by the theatre has been a consistent hang out for us; a great place to listen to piano.


There are no ‘bells and whistles’ in terms of water slides, sparkly stairs or a grand atrium however the ships are kept spotless and the intimate atmosphere means you will get to know the crew.

Find out more on MSC Opera, our most recent cruise on a Lirica class ship here

Musica Class

The Musica Class are in comparison mid-size and more modern, having been built between 2006 and 2010. Being on a larger scale these ships feature stunning atriums spanning a few decks with elegant marble stair cases.

At 92000-95000 GT they’re still ‘small’ in comparison to what’s being built today, however they certainly don’t feel it on the inside! The maximum capacity of MSC Poesia is around 3600 passengers.

Ships in this class: MSC Musica (2006), MSC Orchestra (2007), MSC Poesia (2008) and MSC Magnifica (2010)


What to expect: More balcony cabins than the Lirica class, which often makes a balcony good value. Central atrium with sweeping marble staircases for that perfect cruise ship photograph, speciality dining is available (at cost), bars and lounges with unique themes and styles. MSC Magnifica is unique in this class of cruise ship as she also features an indoor pool.

The Tiger Bar on MSC Magnifica had a great atmosphere and had us dancing all night.

Atrium, MSC Magnifica

Read more about our experience onboard MSC Magnifica here


Fantasia Class

The Fantasia Class of cruise ship are definite mega-ships. MSC Fantasia was our first MSC cruise and a ship we’ve had several cruises on so she holds a very special place in our hearts having first seen her while on a mini-break in Venice.

At 138,900 – 139,400 GT these ships are large and carry between around 4000 and 4400 guests (depending on cabin occupancy)

Ships in this class: MSC Fantasia (2008), MSC Splendida (2009), MSC Divina (2012), MSC Preziosa (2013)


What to expect: The WOW Factor. These ships feature stunning Swarovski Crystal staircases in both the main atrium and also in the exclusive MSC Yacht Club which is available on all four of these ships and every MSC cruise ship built since – find out more about the Yacht Club experience here.

Speciality dining options, including the Galaxy restaurant on MSC Preziosa and MSC Divina which occupies a prime spot on deck 16 as well as the Butcher’s Cut steak house on all four ships.

Our favourite spot tends to be the Piazza on deck 6 or the bar above the casino on deck 7 (the name varies by ship).


The impressive theatre holds around 1600 guests and the deck 15 aft pool bar is not to be missed for stunning views! MSC PReziosa and MSC Divina also feature infinity pools.

Apart from MSC Divina we’ve been on all four of these ships too – most recently MSC Preziosa which you can read about here.


Meraviglia Class and Meraviglia Plus

MSC Meraviglia was the first of the Meraviglia class of ship, launching in 2017 and  followed by the MSC Bellissima in 2019.

In a completely different style to the other MSC ships these beauties feature an indoor promenade or Galleria, perhaps similar in someways to RCCL’s Royal Promenade but with that unique Italian style of MSC. The Galleria is what makes these ships ‘the ship for all seasons’ as large-scale events can be held indoors instead of pool-side.

Galleria Bellissima

At 171,598 GT MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellissima are equal 6th largest ships in the World and are the largest of the MSC Fleet. MSC Grandiosa will be larger and pip them to the post at 181000 GT.

The Yacht Club on MSC Meraviglia was the first to be fully enclosed together – the Fantasia class had the exclusive restaurant at the aft of the ship whereas Meraviglia onwards feature the restaurant above the lounge.

Ships in this class: MSC Meraviglia (2017), MSC Bellissima (2019) (both Meraviglia Class) MSC Grandiosa (Nov 2019), MSC Virtuosa (2020)

What to expect: Stunning indoor Galleria flanked at one end with the theatre and MSC Aurea Spa and a multi-deck atrium with Swarovski crystal stairs at the other. Multiple speciality dining options including Japanese, Spanish, French and a steak house. You’ll find us in the Sky Lounge on Deck 19 watching the sunsets and enjoying excellent free snacks whilst listening to a live band.

To keep you entertained ropes courses, sportplex, a chocolate ‘factory’ and the jewel in the crown that is Cirque Du Soleil shows in an exclusive partnership with MSC Cruises.

sophia loren
MSC Meraviglia launch ceremony with screen icon Sophia Loren

We feel privileged to have been invited to the naming of MSC Bellissima, which you can read about here. We’ve also cruised on Meraviglia which is covered in this blog. Our next MSC cruise will be on the MSC Grandiosa


Seaside Class

If MSC Meraviglia was the ‘ship for all seasons’ then MSC Seaside is the ‘ship that follows the sun’.

These ships are smaller than Meraviglia at 153,000 GT but they are so impressive! A game-changer in cruise ship design the Seaside-class aim to get guests closer to the sea, with a board-walk concept offering bars and dining options.


We enjoyed MSC Seaview’s maiden voyage so much we booked her again later the same year and were pampered in the Yacht Club.

Ships in this class: MSC Seaside (2017) MSC Seaview (2018)

What to expect: There’s no indoor promenade on these ships so the interior is separated in to multiple, distinguished bars and lounges each with a different theme and style. The Venchi chocolate bar offers premium chocolates and crafted cocktails with the signature chocolate as an ingredient.

Entertainment wise these ships feature the longest zip wire at sea, which whilst very tempting neither of us have ever tried! The aqua park offers a choice of exciting water slides, rope bridges and of course a multitude of pools and hot tubs to relax in.

You’ll normally find us around the Champagne Bar which offers (naturally) a choice of Champagnes as well as fresh seafood* – extra charges apply

Cheers! – Champagne Bar on MSC Seaview

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