MSC Meraviglia Ship Review: A Comprehensive Guide

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This is a review of the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship. While Meraviglia may not be the newest or most innovative ship in the MSC Cruises fleet, it holds a special place as the first in the Meraviglia class.

Currently departing from New York and sailing to destinations like Bermuda and Canada/New England, the ship offers an experience as engaging as that of its more recent siblings.

msc meraviglia ship review
MSC Meraviglia is a gem in the Caribbean waters. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Considering booking this ship for a future trip? Read on, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what the Meraviglia offers so you can decide if the ship is right for you.

Just The Facts
Total guest capacity:5,655
Length:1,036 feet
Gross Tonnage:167,600
Decks:19
Best for:Families, multigenerational groups, couples, and international travelers
Not for:Those who prefer a small-ship experience or travelers who are nervous about a more European-style approach

Notable Highlights:

  • MSC Yacht Club
  • Galleria Meraviglia with LED ceiling
  • Atrium with Swarovski crystal staircases
  • Jean-Philippe Chocolate Factory

MSC Meraviglia Ship Review

MSC Meraviglia is the flagship for the MSC Meraviglia class of vessels. Her sister, MSC Bellissima, debuted in early 2019. This ship is the first MSC vessel with an indoor promenade, Galleria Meraviglia, which runs the ship’s length.

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Galleria Meraviglia is a popular gathering place, by day and night. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Headquartered in Switzerland, MSC Cruises is working hard to become a major player in the North American market. It attracts a more international audience than many might be accustomed to sailing with.

That will mean there are some differences that you’re likely to notice, including that announcements are generally made in multiple languages throughout the sailing.

MSC books their cruises by experience — Bella, Fantasica, and Aurora — which is slightly different from the mainstream lines.

You will want to pay close attention during the booking process and ensure that you understand exactly what your package covers and doesn’t. If you start to get nervous, call an MSC representative or work with a travel agent you know has experience with this line.

READ MORE: MSC Meraviglia Trip Report, Day 1

Essentially, each of the “experiences” offers a level of service. Bella, the entry-level experience, is sort of your very basic, bare-bones cruise without much in the way of perks.

It’s also going to be the cheapest way to cruise with MSC. This is a great place to start for people who don’t want added expenses like drink or dinner packages.

MSC Meraviglia Design

You embark on the ship on deck six, which puts you right into the heart of the promenade. Indoor promenades are nothing new to the cruise industry.

However, one with a digital LED ceiling is. You may go into sensory overload between that and the Swarovski crystal staircases. One thing you won’t say is “meh”, because the ship makes a heck of a first impression.

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MSC Meraviglia’s atrium features MSC’s signature Swarovski Crystal Staircases. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

MSC Meraviglia was designed with passenger flow in mind, and that’s important when you’re on a ship with around 5,599 other people. Thanks to how things are laid out, you rarely find yourself dealing with issues of overcrowding or congestion.

There are three banks of elevators on this ship. The forward bank has ten elevators, eight are in the aft bank, and single elevators are on both the port and starboard sides.

These two panoramic elevators, found mid-forward, offer great views during the daytime.

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Technology on MSC Meraviglia even extends to drink ordering in the bars. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Like their competitors, MSC has gone all-in where technology is concerned.

From the dazzling LED screens of Galleria Meraviglia to digital, interactive signage that allows you to make dining reservations with a tap of your keycard, technology is seamlessly interwoven into every aspect of the ship in the most user-friendly ways possible.

Activities 

There are plenty of activities both indoors and out on MSC Meraviglia. Sun worshippers and pool lovers will be happy to hear that four pools are on board. Two of the pools are located mid-ship and are connected.

Just ahead of the main pool is the two-deck solarium, which has not only a pool but several hot tubs to choose from. The final pool can be found on the aft of the ship. It’s here that you’ll experience a true connection with the ocean.

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MSC Meraviglia features four different pools. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Lounger-wise, you should never have a problem finding a place to lay in the sun (or, if you prefer, the shade). You might have to wander around a bit, but there’s plenty of space.

One of the great things is that the lounge chairs aren’t only located around the pool. You’ll find them in expected and unexpected places, allowing you to be in the heart of the action or far from it, should you choose.

The Polar Aquapark features three slides and a kid’s splash area. Thrill-seekers will love the Himalayan Bridge ropes course, located almost 200 feet above sea level on deck 19.

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MSC Meraviglia features 3 water slides. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Inside the ship, there’s, of course, a casino and plenty of shopping opportunities. You’ll also find a bowling alley, an interactive theater, and several virtual-reality-type games (all of which have fees attached). We tested our racing skills in the Formula 1 simulator (and failed miserably) for $10.

Nearby, you’ll also find Sportplex, which features a regulation-size basketball court that can be transformed for various purposes.

During our sailing, they used it for everything from a soccer game to a kid’s Masterchef cooking class.

If you have a sweet tooth, head down to deck six, where French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury has a permanent presence on MSC Meraviglia. To call what you’ll find a “chocolate shop” is to understate the wonders it holds woefully.

This is probably the closest you’re ever going to come to visiting Willy Wonka’s infamous chocolate factory. Trained chocolate makers can often be found designing and making unique creations. You can even order a model ship made out of milk, dark or white chocolate.

msc meraviglia chocolate
Jean-Philippe Maury’s chocolate shop on MSC Meraviglia is a delight for the senses. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

The MSC Aurea Spa is massive. There are 20 treatment rooms (most ships only have a handful) and one of the nicest thermal suites at sea.

There are two thalassotherapy pools within the thermal suite, steam rooms, a snow grotto, a salt room, an aromatherapy room, and a relaxation room. Both day and voyage-long passes are available.

MSC Meraviglia Dining 

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L Olivo d’oro is one of two main dining rooms on MSC Meraviglia. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

With 12 dining venues onboard, there is no shortage of food options. Four main dining rooms are spread across deck five and six, with the other venues spread throughout the ship.

You can purchase a dining package for the sailing if you want to save a few dollars. Otherwise, the specialty venues are a la carte, except Teppanyaki.

The four main dining rooms serve Mediterranean and international foods with a different menu each night. A standard nightly menu is consistent throughout the voyage, offering traditional dishes like steak, fish, and chicken.

butcher cut

In the past, many have complained about the food aboard MSC Cruises. On one of my previous voyages on an MSC ship, I found the complaints valid.

The food issues made me think twice (and even three times) before sailing with them again. Happily, that did not prove to be the case on Meraviglia.

Overall, the food was what I’d classify as “solid.” It didn’t necessarily blow me away, but it was far, far better than what I’d experienced on the line in the past.

Main Dining Rooms:

  • L Olive doree
  • L Olivo d’oro
  • Waves Restaurant
  • Panorama Restaurant

Your dining time will depend on the experience you choose when booking your cruise. They offer early, late, and anytime seating in the main dining room.

The Marketplace is the buffet area located on deck 15. We found the selections on the buffet to be sufficient and standard. There is a meat carving station, salad bar, ethnic dishes, breads, desserts, and a full-service bar.

There are plenty of drink stations within the Marketplace, and if you want to dine outside, there’s space on the back patio that overlooks the wake.

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MSC Meraviglia’s pizzeria is front and center in the Marketplace Buffet.

It wouldn’t be a European cruise line if we didn’t talk about the pizza served onboard. The pizzeria is located at the very front of the Marketplace buffet.

The pizza makers toss 500 pies daily here, ranging from a basic cheese pie to supreme. There’s also a mozzarella-making station next to the pizza area where you can watch the chef making cheese from scratch.

We learned on our sailing that not every beverage package is accepted at every restaurant. As a rule of thumb, the basic Easy package is only accepted at bars around the ship and not in dining venues. Again, it’s worth researching the various packages and what they do and don’t cover.

Specialty Restaurants on MSC Meraviglia:

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Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant & Sushi Bar brings a taste of Japan to MSC Meraviglia. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)
  • HOLA! Tapas
  • Ocean Cay Restaurant
  • Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse
  • Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant & Sushi Bar

For-fee venues like HOLA! Tapas features bite-sized dishes made for sharing by Spanish chef Ramón Freixa. Ocean Cay is the line’s fresh seafood restaurant featuring Boston lobster, oysters, crab, and fish options.

The Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse offers brunch on sea days and nightly dinner selections. You can order off the dinner menu if you’re having brunch here. However, there is no actual lunch menu.

Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant & Sushi Bar are home runs thanks to freshly rolled sushi they make right before you for a reasonable price.

The teppanyaki experience was fun and an affordable seven-course experience. (It’s also a place where “the more, the merrier” holds, as this isn’t just dinner, but a meal and a show by your chef.)

Bars and Entertainment on MSC Meraviglia

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The Broadway Theatre on MSC Meraviglia is bright and spacious. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

There’s a variety of entertainment options onboard, including nightly free shows staged on Broadway.

On the back of the ship, just aft of the casino, is the Carousel Lounge. As of 2023, Rock Circus and House of Houdini are the two shows playing there.

Elsewhere, there are no shortages of places to relax on MSC Meraviglia. The promenade is lined with bars on both levels. Among the standouts is the Brash Anchor Pub, which feels like an authentic British pub and features a limited bar menu, including fish and chips.

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Grab a pint of Guinness at MSC Meraviglia’s Pub. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Poolside, you’ll find two bars near the midship pool and one in the solarium. And if you get the munchies while lounging in the sun, there’s an extension of the Marketplace Buffet poolside as well offering basics like burgers, hotdogs, and pizza.

Back by the aft pool, there’s the Horizon Bar which, given its location and killer views, is perfectly named.

One of my favorite watering holes was the Sky Lounge, thanks in part to its walls of windows overlooking the pool and jogging track.

MSC Meraviglia Cabins 

balcony cabin msc meraviglia
A balcony stateroom on MSC Meraviglia offers all the standard cruise amenities. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

The ship comprises a mix of interior, oceanview, and balcony staterooms. Solo travelers will be happy to hear that the ship offers 136-square-foot studio cabins. (This does not include the suites available in the Yacht Club, which will be discussed separately.)

The cabins feature a stylish decor that is modern and simplistic at the same time. They’re well-appointed with USB chargers, plugs, and plenty of storage space. Bathrooms are decent size with actual shower enclosures instead of the dreaded shower curtains.

The televisions in the staterooms are interactive, allowing you to check your folio. Still, it’s worth noting that with interior staterooms, the TV is not well positioned for watching from the bed.

The Yacht Club 

msc meraviglia
The Top Sail Lounge in the MSC Yacht Club offers panoramic views and live music for guests of the “ship within a ship. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Read reviews of this or other MSC ships, and you’ll inevitably find people raving about The Yacht Club.

This is MSC’s version of the ship-within-a-ship concept, wherein passengers willing to pay the price have exclusive access to their dining room, lounge, sun deck, pool, hot tubs, and a butler.

The other perks of booking the Yacht Club include priority seating for shows and a private elevator bank of priority embarkation and debarkation.

yacht club msc meraviglia
MSC Meraviglia’s sun deck within the Yacht Club. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Given the limited amount of rooms in this space and the square footage dedicated to the Yacht Club sun deck, it’s a great option if you’re a sun-seeker who doesn’t like crowds and is willing to spend a little (or a lot, depending on the type of stateroom booked) extra.

It wouldn’t surprise me if people book the Yacht Club and never venture out to any other part of the ship, instead choosing to spend the cruise in the lap of luxury.

Kids and Teens 

F1 simulator msc meraviglia
The Formula 1 Simulators are just one of the amenities that appeal to kids on MSC Meraviglia. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

MSC Cruises breaks down their kid’s programs into different age groups: one to three, three to eleven, 12 to 14, and 15 to 17 years old.

The Doremi Kids Club is full of activities to keep little ones entertained throughout the day. MSC has a partnership with LEGO, and, as every parent knows, LEGOs are to kids what the drink package is to most adults.

Elsewhere, the youth programs are interactive and (like most kids today) very tech-savvy, making it one of the most unique kid’s programs at sea.

Final Thoughts

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MSC Meraviglia is a beautiful, Italian-style cruise ship. (DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

Over the past few years, MSC Cruises has been making a play for a bigger share of the American cruise market. While they hit a few rough spots along the way, Meraviglia (along with ships like MSC Seaside) proves they are a serious contender.

There are differences between MSC and other mainstream lines, such as Norwegian or Carnival Cruise Lines, and it’s important to do some research and ensure you understand those differences.

On the most basic of levels, a cruise is a cruise. But I’ve long believed that not every cruise (or cruise ship) is right for every person.

That’s why it’s a bad idea, especially for a first-time cruiser, to simply book a sailing without doing some research or talking to a travel professional first.

msc meraviglia promenade
(DOUG PARKER/CRUISE RADIO)

All that said, MSC Meraviglia is an absolutely gorgeous ship that should appeal to a wide variety of cruisers.

Whereas some other lines emphasize top-deck attractions, MSC has continued to recognize the importance of giving people pools and lots of space to soak up the sun, especially with this ship. If you’ve never tried or even considered MSC, this might be the ship to look into.

MSC Meraviglia Tour (2019)

msc meraviglia review
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