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7 Important Things You Need to Know Before You Book Your MSC Family Cruise

msc cruises guide

7 Important Things You Need to Know Before You Book Your MSC Family Cruise

Everything you want to know about sailing with MSC Cruises from its Florida, USA ports.  If you’ve been thinking about an MSC Cruise, hopefully this will answer your questions about what to expect during the pandemic, what procedures are in place, what families can enjoy on MSC and more.

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Sailing MSC Cruises USA

Currently, you can sail on 3 different MSC cruise ships from Port Canaveral (Orlando), FL and Miami, FL.  

MSC Divina sails the Caribbean and the Bahamas in 2022, as well as, stops at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve ( their very own private island in the Bahamas).  On board the Divina, you’ll be entertained at the broadway-size Pantheon Theater, take photos on the Swarovski crystal staircases, and dream by the infinity pool.

MSC Meraviglia sails to the Caribbean and the Bahamas through Spring of 2022 then the Mediterranean in Summer and Fall 2022.  Be wowed by the Galleria Meraviglia, a 315-foot central promenade with restaurants, shops, and entertainment including the LED Dome Show.

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Visit my Visual Guide to MSC Merviglia on Instagram.

MSC Seashore is the newest ship providing 7+ day cruises from Miami to the Caribbean and the Bahamas with outdoor dining, a glass-floored walkway, outdoor lounges, aft infinity pool, and a water fountain island pool connected to an Aquapark with waterslides and an adventure trail.

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What to Expect 

What You Should Know Before You Book

If traveling during the pandemic, services and experiences may be different as this is an ever-changing atmosphere that we are continually wading through.  Currently, getting on board has certain requirements influenced by the recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Passengers over age 12 must be vaccinated and show proof, as well as, show negative test results taken within 2 days of boarding.  These rules may change by destination, please see MSC directly for the most updated requirements at any given time.

TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS FOR CRUISES TO THE BAHAMAS & CARIBBEAN INCLUDE VACCINE REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. AND PUERTO RICO RESIDENTS

All guests 12 years old & older must be fully vaccinated at time of embarkation (final dose being administered at least 14 days prior to embarkation)

Must present your original vaccine card/certificate at the pier upon check-in

COVID-19 TEST REQUIREMENTS:

All fully vaccinated guests 12 years & older are required show proof of a negative antigen or RT-PCR test taken no more than 2 days prior to ship embarkation

All guests not fully vaccinated (all guests under 12 years of age, given our vaccination requirements) are required to show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 3 days prior to ship embarkation. These guests will undergo an additional COVID-19 test at the terminal prior to embarkation, provided by MSC Cruises, free of charge. The only exception is that no pre-embarkation or embarkation testing is required for guests under 2 years of age. 

At Embarkation

  • A mask is required throughout the terminal and during embarkation
  • Proof of vaccine (don’t forget to bring your vaccine card or certificate of vaccination)
  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test for guests 2 years and older, for both pre-embarkation testing, and if provided and required by MSC Cruises for embarkation testing
  • MSC Cruises may provide additional testing, if necessary, at the terminal during embarkation or on board to protect our guests and crew
  • An assigned arrival time will be provided on your e-ticket. If you arrive early, you may be asked to wait outside until your embarkation time
  • Children 2 – 11 years old will be tested at the pier prior to embarkation (covered by MSC)
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While Cruising

  • A mask will be required throughout the cruise while indoors and in public areas. In addition, you will be required to wear a mask during disembarkation and throughout the terminal
  • You may be required to take a COVID-19 test during the cruise, depending on pandemic conditions
  • If you become symptomatic during the cruise, you will be required to take a RT-PCR test on board (covered by MSC)
  • To support guests in complying with international travel requirements, MSC Cruises allows guests to purchase an RT-PCR test or antigen test during your cruise
  • International guests only (non-US and Puerto Rico residents): A COVID-19 test or Passenger Locator Form (PLF) may still be necessary for national or international travel. It’s every guests responsibility to verify this requirement before departure  

Health Rules You May Encounter Aboard MSC Cruises:

  • Shoe sanitization as you enter certain areas
  • Daily temperature check (usually when entering the dining rooms).
  • Traffic Flow signs and rules
  • TIme limits
  • Capacity controls
  • No self-service – delivery by crew of food and drinks
  • You may not be allowed to move some chairs
  • Some areas may be marked “do not sit”
  • Do Not Enter signs
  • Do Not Touch signs
  • Use knuckle for elevator buttons
  • Leave one seat open between casino machines, theater seating, and/or treadmills

While in Port – Shore Excursions

  • MSC Cruises highly recommends that guests who have fully vaccinated themselves and would like to explore ashore purchase a shore excursion to ensure the same high safety & health standards as aboard the cruise ship.
  • You must purchase a shore excursion if you wish to go ashore with kids 11 years old or younger who are not fully vaccinated (excluding Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, our exclusive private island). This is to help ensure everyone is following the same health & safety protocol.

PLEASE NOTE: Fully vaccinated guests in the same traveling party as a not fully vaccinated guest or a child 11 years old or younger are considered not fully vaccinated for purposes of shore excursions. 

Disembarkation

  1. Put out your luggage the night before. ( I like to keep essentials in an overnight bag for the final day and pack up the rest right after dinner that night.)  Leave the luggage outside your door for pickup at the designated time.  Add provided tags to your bags.
  2. Settle your bill the night before so you aren’t tied up with last minute billing issues that morning.
  3. You’re often told to vacate the cabin by 8am and the dining room doesn’t stay open much later than that.  I like to head to the dining room and have one final meal before heading ashore. 
  4. If you’re in a hurry to get off, be sure to look into any express walk-off options including carrying off your own luggage.
  5. Your MSC for Me wristband is collected at the gangway, you will be charged $35 if it is not returned.

FAQ

Who Owns MSC Cruises?  

MSC Cruises is the third largest cruise line in the world.  It is part of the MSC Group (Mediterranean Shipping Company), a leader in global container shipping, which is fully owned by the Aponte Family.  

Is the food good?

That’s subjective.  There is a good variety including seasonal and cultural dishes with good flavors.  There is an appeal to every type of eating style including the kid that only eats french fries and mac & cheese. 

What is the main language?

The U.S. based itineraries will find primarily English spoken on board with an immense amount of multilingual staff.  In Europe, you might sail and hear 6 languages spoken during every announcement which include English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.  

What is included?

This depends on the “Experience” that you book.  Typically staterooms range from comfortable to luxurious. Main restaurants, buffet dining, theater shows, pool areas, open-air sports, gym access, entertainment and recreational activities.

What are “Experiences”?

When you book, you will be choosing a room from 4 experiences:  Bella, Fantastica, Aurea, and MSC Yacht Club.  

Bella includes the bare minimum inclusions mentioned above. 

Fantastica adds booking flexibility to change the date for free; 24-hr room service (for a fee); free breakfast in the stateroom; preferred dinner time; pillow menu.

Aurea adds Welcome package (Prosecco + chocolate); 24-hour room service (free delivery); Flexible dining time with My Choice dining in a dedicated restaurant or area; Complimentary access to the Top Exclusive Solarium; access to thermal area.

MSC Yacht Club includes:

  • Dedicated priority check-in and check-out as well as priority departure and return on excursion days
  • 24-hour butler service and dedicated concierge
  • Room Service available 24 hours a day
  • Premium Extra Drink Package (includes all drinks up to $/€ 13 on all ships)
  • Premium Internet package (Browse – 2 devices Unlimited Internet Package)
  • Complimentary access to the Thermal Suite in the MSC Aurea Spa
  • Relaxation amenities in each suite (including bathrobe, and slippers)
  • Pillow menu
  • Other personal touches: luggage packing/unpacking service, newspaper directly delivered in stateroom on request
  • MSC for Me wristband (where available)
  • 1 free cruise change*
  • Welcome package (Prosecco + chocolate)
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Family Cruises 

MSC Kids Clubs provides daily entertainment from tournaments and quizzes to a special family Disco.  Additionally, you can also fill your days splashing down waterslides, on a ropes course, driving a Formula 1 car, getting strikes in the bowling alley, and enjoying exclusive Lego activities.  

Even Babies and toddlers have special services dedicated to them, from mini clubs in a dedicated play space designed by Chicco to baby care and baby laundry service.

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Each destination has family fun excursions with discounted fares for children 3 – 13 years old and free for children under 2. 

Select cruises include kids sail free (must pay taxes and port fees).  

MSC New Year’s Sale 3 Nights from $189

Kids Clubs

Kids Clubs Check-in/Out – during COVID regulations expect only one legal guardian to accompany the child/children. 

  • Baby Club – under 3 years old WITH Parent.
  • Mini Club – ages 3 – 6
  • Juniors Club – ages 7 – 11
  • Young Club – ages 12 – 14
  • Teens Club – ages 15 – 17

What activities will they do in the kids clubs?

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Group games and competitions in the sportsplex
  • Doremi Lab has tech equipment for discovery games and exploration
  • Doremi Cinema – movie time together
  • Kids Club Live – family games and surprises
  • MSCTeens Tech – VIdeo games and tournaments
  • Doremi Chef – cooking classes
  • Doremi School – language classes

When to register:

Once on board, you should be able to see when the opening hours for registration are.  Fill in the kids registration form, add any additional adults that you want to be able to pick up your child and designate whether it is okay for them to sign themselves out.  The kids safety wristband might be in your stateroom already or you can pick one up at this time. 

Take this time to meet the children’s team and learn about safety procedures. 

Safety Rules for Families:

  • Children under 12 are not allowed in elevators without an accompanying adult.
  • Pools are not supervised, children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Children under 6 should be accompanied by an adult in the AquaPark.
  • Children are not allowed ashore without an accompanying adult.

Packages and Services That Might Surprise You or a Loved One

Debutant Ceremonies and Parties at Sea Classic Package for up to 20 guests includes a dedicated welcome for the guest of honor and family, 1hr party in a reserved decorated lounge with a DJ, Photo service, & Non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails.

Honeymooners Package includes a discount and special onboard treatment.

Anniversary Cruise Packages can include wine and cake or a free shore excursion and a free Swarovski gift worth up to $80.

Have more questions? Ask in the comments or message me.

Happy Wandering with MSC Cruises!

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