MSC vs Royal Caribbean: my opinion after I’ve tried both!

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msc vs royal caribbean

Hello Cruise Fans!

Today I am quite happy to write this article because we are going to compare two of my favorite cruise lines, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

If you don’t know yet, I am Italian, and as you can imagine I have been on many cruises with MSC.

However, I also tried Royal Caribbean and can already tell you that I found many differences between the two.

So let’s start right away with this MSC Cruises vs. Royal Caribbean comparison!

The Ships

As a starting point, I wanna say that both MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean have impressive fleets.

In particular, Royal Caribbean is renowned for having some of the world’s largest ones, like the new Icon of the Seas (which is currently the largest cruise ship in the world).

Many of its ships have distinct neighborhoods and offer a wide range of activities, dining options, and entertainment.

Every class has its own unique features, for example, the Oasis Class has introduced the like zip line and the surf simulator. While, the Quantum Class ships, while slightly smaller, have introduced very technological features like the North Star observation capsule and indoor skydiving.

The Miami-based cruise line currently has a total of 28 ships that can carry from about 2,000 passengers to over 7,500 passengers. No other cruise line in the world can carry so many guests.

Additionally, the fleet continues to expand with 3 new ships already announced and joining Royal Caribbean in 2024, 2025, and 2026.

ships and fleet msc vs royal caribbean
Ships MSC vs Royal Caribbean

On the other hand, Italian-owned MSC Cruises expanded very quickly, it launched several large ships year after year.

The current fleet consists of 22 ships, many of which are among the largest in the world.

Many of them, such as those in the Meraviglia and Seaside classes, are known for their European-style glamorous design and impressive onboard features like LED domes.

The company also prioritizes environmental technology. The largest ship in the fleet, 2022’s MSC World Europa, uses cleaner-burning liquified natural gas (LNG) as fuel.

Furthermore, the MSC fleet is also constantly expanding. MSC World America, a 215,000-ton ship that will cruise from Miami, will arrive in 2025. While, for 2026, the arrival of MSC World Asia has already been announced.

The Cabins

Let’s now compare the cabin offers between Royal Caribbean and MSC. As you can imagine, there are quite a few differences in the design, amenities, and services that come with them.

Like on many cruise ships, Royal Caribbean cabins are categorized into 4 main types: inside cabin, ocean view cabin, balcony cabin, and suite.

Each type is carefully designed to maximize the comfort. For example, some newer inside cabins on ships in the Oasis and Quantum classes have virtual balconies that provide real-time ocean views on an interior screen.

Balcony cabins are the most popular and the most loved ones if you consider the comfort/price ratio. Many passengers love being able to take in the view and enjoy the outdoors while they sail.

Another very positive aspect of Royal Caribbean is the suites. They are spacious and offer additional perks like access to exclusive lounges and dining venues. In the highest suite categories, you even get a butler service known as the ‘Royal Genie’.

cabins royal caribbean vs msc
Cabins Royal Caribbean vs MSC

MSC Cruises offers a similar range of cabin categories. The main idea behind them is to merge a stylish design with technological features.

For example, on MSC you use MSC for Me, an app that helps you with all the services on the ship. You can book tables, reserve seats for the shows, check the daily program, chat with other passengers on the ships, and many other things.

Moreover, I personally love their Yacht Club suites that offer an “all-inclusive” cruise experience with access to private areas, including a dedicated lounge, pool, and restaurant.

In this aspect, I think that the level of luxury is comparable to Royal Caribbean’s suites, but MSC distinguishes for its unique Italian styling.

The Food

Time to compare one of my favorite parts of cruising: the food!

Royal Caribbean is renowned for its variety and innovative dishes across all fleets.

As you probably know, the main dining room offers a multi-course dining experience which is included in the cruise fare. The menus on Royal Caribbean change every night and usually let you taste various international cuisines.

For a more casual meal, every ship has a buffet that offers an extensive array of dishes. You’ll find the super classic hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, pizza, etc.

In addition to the complementary options, Royal Caribbean provides a good variety of specialty dining options such as Chops Grille for steak lovers, Izumi for sushi, and the Wonderland restaurant for those looking for a unique culinary adventure.

On the contrary, MSC Cruises emphasizes more on Mediterranean tastes in its dining offerings, with a strong focus on Italian cuisine among its various international options.

The buffets on MSC are massive and offer literally everything, from fresh fruit and salads to pizza and ethnic specialties.

Moreover, both cruise lines are meticulous with special dietary needs and offer gluten-free options and special dishes for allergies.

Let me add just a little personal opinion. I tried both and I must say that the food was very good in both cases.

For my taste, I preferred MSC, because the dishes are closer to my personal preferences (as you can imagine I eat a lot of pasta and pizza). But Royal Caribbean surprised me with the quality of ingredients and the excellent execution.

Below is a photo comparing the lobster of both companies.
Regarding this specific dish I preferred Royal Caribbean but both were very good.

food and lobster msc vs royal caribbean
Lobster Royal Caribbean vs MSC

The Entertainment

I found that the entertainment type was quite different between the two cruise lines.

At the theatre, Royal Caribbean ships feature impressive Broadway-style productions, including famous musicals like “Mamma Mia!” and “We Will Rock You” along with original productions such as “The Gift” and “Spectra’s Cabaret”.

I liked the show’s quality, however, they have quite a few dialogues that can be boring if you don’t speak English.

On the other hand, MSC has more productions based on acrobatics and dance that are perfect for an international audience.

Also, in terms of fun Royal Caribbean definitely doesn’t disappoint. Some of the most loved activities include escape rooms, rock climbing walls, and zip lines.

While on MSC you can often find F1 simulators, bowling alleys, and small 4D cinemas.

The itineraries and the price

Now let’s talk about the itineraries because again there are several differences.

Royal Caribbean’s itineraries are quite varied but most of the cruises focus on regions like the Caribbean and Alaska. There are some cruises to Europe and the Arabian Gulf but in much smaller numbers.

On the contrary, MSC is expanding a lot in the states and has added several itineraries in recent years, but still its main focus at the moment seems to remain the Mediterranean.

One thing that I really like is that both companies have their own private island. Royal Caribbean has Perfect Day at CocoCay and MSC has Ocean Cay.
Both of them are in the Bahamas and enhance the overall cruise experience.

In terms of the price, as I’ve already explained in this article, the cost of a cruise can significantly vary based on the destination, length, and time of year.

In general, I can say that MSC Cruises tends to be a bit cheaper. In particular, they have good family-friendly deals because kids sail free under certain conditions. This could lead to quite big savings for family vacations.

To conclude

In conclusion, as I have already repeated several times, both companies are great for a cruise.

I have tried both of them and always had a good time, in fact, I can tell you that they are my two favorite cruise lines ever.

Of course, personal preferences can vary between people…so if you have tried them let us know what you think through the comments below!

Thank you for reading the whole article,
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