You’ve booked a cruise, but want to know a bit more about the MSC Magnifica cruise ship before you sail off on the high seas? We’ve got that info for you!! We came back from an 11 night cruise on the MSC Magnifica a few weeks ago. It was a fun trip and we learned a ton of information about the ship. We’ll break down some of the data, so you’ll be prepared for your sailing.
The MSC Magnifica cruise ship is a Musica-class ship. It was the 4th and final ship of this class. The ship was nice ,but a bit worn, having been in service since 2010. It helped that the crew did a good job of keeping it clean. The ship carries just over 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew. This is not a Mega ship, but still had plenty of amenities to keep my kids entertained and it was a good size for cruising around Europe.
We were lucky during our sailing as the ship wasn’t at full capacity. There was plenty of space to get away from the crowds and relax with a drink as we glided across the sea.
Most of the staff were friendly & great with the kids. We had read reviews of extremely rude staff, but for the most part, we didn’t find this to be the case. That’s not to say we didn’t come across some rude crew members, it just means that most were friendly, considerate and tried to make our cruise pleasurable.
Our room steward and waiters at dinner were especially great. Our room steward was on top of things. Most mornings we left the room for breakfast and returned an hour later to find the room already cleaned. We didn’t get towel animals, but I’ll take a clean room and fresh towels over lame towel animal art any day.
There are 12 bars onboard the MSC Magnifica cruise ship. Each bar has a theme and some include special drink menus if you’re looking to try a something new while onboard. When there wasn’t an organized event to attend, we liked the L’Ametista Lounge on deck 7. The seats were comfortable and it wasn’t usually crowded. However, this was not the spot to be when the seas were rough! Due to the location of the lounge, we could really feel the roughness of the sea.
La Barchetta Bar on deck 13 was where my kids hung out, but not because of the liquor! Located in the solarium pool area, this was the bar with the gelato. If you want gelato, milkshakes or smoothies, head to this bar. It was rather busy as it was cold outside on our cruise, so most people avoided being on the Pool Deck. If I was in the area, I stopped to get my drinks outside, at the La Conchiglia Bar, braving the chill so I didn’t have to wait to be served.
Swim regardless of the weather. There are 4 whirlpools and 2 swimming pools on the ship, 1 swimming pool and 2 whirlpools inside and 2 whirlpools and 1 pool outside. Unfortunately, the water temperature felt more like bath water than a traditional hot tub. The solarium, with a sky-lit indoor pool, has a Magrodome retractable roof. Unfortunately, we never saw the roof retracted as it was still chilly during our March sailing. There was also tennis, minigolf, bowling, billiards, and jogging track if you don’t want to get wet!
The MSC Aurea Spa brings traditional Balinese massages to the sea. The spa offers a wide range of services including Jean Louis David beauty treatments, sauna, Turkish bath, fitness center, thalassotherapy room and a relaxation area. As part of our Aurea Experience, we had full access to the sauna, Turkish bath and 3 hot tubs in the spa. It was a great way to get away from the crowds and relax.
The Aurea Experience included a one hour massage. Derrick and I chose to get a couples massage. Sadly, I didn’t realize it at the time, but those are only 45 minutes. I ripped myself off of 15 minutes worth of massage!
As mentioned in my MSC cruise secrets article, make sure to watch for spa sales. You will find sales listed daily in your program.
The staterooms were well appointed and well laid out. We had a balcony room on deck 12 . There was plenty of storage space, but I did feel the closet was a bit smaller than other ships we have sailed on. We managed to fit everything in for 4 people, without a problem though. We utilized the drawers in the closet as well as the desk drawers for storing our clothing.
The room for 4 guests included a pulldown bed & a sofa bed. This is exactly what we needed with 2 kids. No fighting over who is on who’s side of the bed. No fighting over blankets. After you determine who gets the top and who gets the bottom, you’re good to go. It’s a bit tight with the 2 beds opened, but we had just enough room to squeeze out onto the balcony after the kids went to sleep.
The shower was a bit tight, but the pressure was good. You’ll find shampoo and body wash available in each shower, but the quality wasn’t the best. However, it would do in a pinch if you forgot to bring your own.
Sigh. The food. I had high expectations for a cruise line with Italian influence. Unfortunately, we found the food overall to be unimpressive and subpar. Most of the meals were just okay. I didn’t go hungry on the ship. It was rare that we actually said something was good. Bonus – instead of gaining weight, I actually lost a couple of pounds.
We are used to Mediterranean style cuisine having resided in France for over two years and traveled extensively through Europe. It wasn’t that the food was different than American (which of course it is) , it’s just the flavor wasn’t that good. We rarely said anything we ate was tasty with the exception of the coffee and gelato, which were exceptional. And the coffee prices were great. Very Italian. A cappuccino was only 2.20€. I pay 3.50€ – 4€ in France unless I’m at an Italian owned cafe.
The Sahara buffet was disappointing. I don’t usually put a lot of stock in buffets, but they are usually decent on cruise ships. Since many of the dishes could be found on both sides of the buffet, it was imperative to wander the entire buffet to find the best looking food. The burgers and hot dogs weren’t good at all, but they’re not really European foods, so our expectations for these weren’t particularly high.
The breakfast buffet was fine. The variety was lacking by American standards, but for the most part, it was palatable. We missed the create your own omelet station as found on other cruise lines. The omelet portions they served weren’t good, at all. But the kids sure enjoyed the whipped cream and syrups they could load onto their pancakes, waffles and french toast.
Since the tables in the buffet were always occupied during peak times, we tended to take our food onto the indoor pool deck. Even when the buffet wasn’t busy, we found this atmosphere preferable.
The restaurant meals were hit or miss. Our assigned dining room was Quattro Venti. The ambiance was lovely, just not as grand as some other cruise lines and the kids didn’t like the food served from the kids menu. After the 2nd night, they started ordering off the adult menu. On Valentine’s Day a special dessert was served -a chocolate meringue heart with whipped cream and strawberries. We appreciated the special holiday touch.
The salads were not as fresh as expected and tended to be watery. Also, there wasn’t a lot of fruit variety and many times it wasn’t completely ripe. Maybe it was just the the time of year we sailed.
The soups were always good. The couple of soups I didn’t like were more due to personal preference than the soup itself. The breads were always very good. I particularly liked the focaccia and Lucy loved the breadsticks. The desserts were usually good as well.
We always had great service in restaurant. The waiters were always attentive and friendly with the kids. They knew our drink orders, asked about the kids when they missed dinner and generally seemed to enjoy their jobs.
Lunch was served either at the buffet or the L’Edera Restaurant. In the restaurant itself, you could choose from items from a small buffet or you could order off a menu. Many of the items from the daily menu were also available on the buffet, so you could avoid a wait and just grab your food there. We noticed the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy when they opened at noon, but by 1pm people were starting to stream in. While the there weren’t as many selections as in the Sahara Cafeteria, it was a better atmosphere and not as crowded.
Food is served 20 hours per day. Early bird breakfast starts at 6am and midnight snacks are served until 2:30am. Pizza was available from noon to midnight, so that was always a good food option.
Specialty Restaurant –
There was only one specialty dining restaurant onboard, the Oriental Restaurant, located on deck 7. The meals were priced per dish not per person, as on other cruise lines. The restaurant wasn’t busy and had nice decor with a romantic and intimate atmosphere.
We received a 15% discount for booking on the first night. I highly recommend making it a priority to book at this time as this was a nice savings on our meal. We booked the first night and dined on the 9th night.
The portions are all small and relatively inexpensive, so we tried several different dishes. We couldn’t find much information online about the restaurant prior to sailing, so we were at first a bit concerned about the freshness of the sushi. Derrick thought the salmon sushi was very good – not fishy. He wished then that he had ordered the 26€ sample platter.
The cucumber roll was fine. Nothing special, tasted like a cucumber roll. This was not the best sushi we’ve ever had, but it was good for a cruise ship.
The spring rolls were not good which was disappointing, as Derrick & I both ordered these. I ordered the dim sum to get a taste of all the dumplings and Derrick ordered spring rolls and chicken satay. The Seafood Dumplings Delhi were delicious and my favorite part of the meal. Derrick liked the chicken satay and even the sprouts that came with it. Neither Derrick nor I liked the accompanying sauces, so we used the soy sauce.
For our main course, I ordered the Rice Noodles and Derrick ordered the Pad Thai. The noodles and vegetables were cooked perfectly but the dish had no flavor, so I added soy sauce. I love rice noodles so it was up my alley, even though I had to add the soy for flavor.
Derrick said it was the worst Pad Thai he’d even had. The fried ice cream for dessert was also terrible and should be avoided. The bill was 33€ after our discount but didn’t include drinks since we had the beverage package. For the price, it was worth dining once. Other cruisers must have loved the food, as we heard a couple people mention they had dined here 2 or 3 times.
A good tip that we observed from other diners is placing an order for one dish then ordering another once that was consumed.
Check which specialty nights will be available during your cruise. We had 3 gala (formal), 3 casual, 1 tropical (which no one really dressed for), 1 white, 1 red, 1 theme (60’s, 70’s or 80’s), and 1 informal. Not everyone dressed up, but there were many cruisers all dolled up for gala nights.
Laundry service is available on the ship. The price for up to 20 items was 20€ and up to 40 items was 50€.
Also note that in mid February, it’s still cold around Greece. Pack layers and ensure you bring a coat and scarf.
Kids Club –
Both kids loved spending time in the Kids Club. The staff was friendly and they did a good job of having a variety of activities for the kids. A huge plus for Lucy was the LEGO’s. Since MSC has partnered with LEGO, there were some scheduled LEGO events, but the kids could play with LEGO’s at any time.
I didn’t like the different times for the ages groups. The Young Club (ages 12-14) was not open in the mornings on port day and it’s opening times for sea days were different from the Juniors Club (ages 7-11).
Both kids did have the ability to sign themselves in and out. Since Lucy was only 9, we didn’t allow her to roam the ship alone. K was assigned to pick her up from the Kids Club and drop her off. At age 12, K was given a bit more freedom.
The older kids had access to the Disco, Bowling Alley and 4D Cinema on deck 14. Bowling and the cinema were available at an extra fee. There was also a photo machine where kids could take pictures with their friends. Children as young as 3 years are welcome in the Mini Club and the Teen Club is available for a kids age 15 – 17. The same crew member was responsible for both the Young Club and Teens Club during our sailing.
*Gift idea – There is a special MSC LEGO cruise ship available to purchase onboard. You can only get the set while sailing.
Our European Itinerary for the 11 night cruise included Italy, Greece, Malta & Cyrpus. The ship changes it’s itinerary thoughout the season. After our cruise, the MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship was sailing out of Barcelona then moving up to Northern Europe. Therefore, I’m just going to briefly touch on our itinerary and our ports of call.
Embarkation was either in Civitavecchia or Genoa, Italy. We boarded in Genoa, which is just a short train ride from Nice, France.
Genoa, Italy – Capital of the Liguria region in northwest Italy is the port city of Genoa. If you have time, spend some of it getting lost in the twisting roads of the Old Town. If traveling with kids, Genoa is home to Europe’s second-largest aquarium.
Valletta, Malta – We’ve decided Malta is a country that needs further exploration. The city is beautiful, full of character and baroque architecture.
We spent the day wandering the old streets, gazing out at the water and relaxing in the gardens. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there was plenty of history to discover just outside of the port.
Katakolon, Greece – The must see attraction at this stop is Olympia. Olympia is where the ancient Greeks came every 4 years to celebrate the sacred games dedicated to Zeus. You can read all about getting from Katakolon to Olympia Greece and see some pictures of our time in Olympia.
Piraeus, Greece – Piraeus is a port city and is known as the gateway to Athens. There isn’t much to see in Piraeus, so visiting Athens is a great option. We did discover a lovely Greek Orthodox Church a few minutes from the port, but that was the extent of interesting things we found to see.
Organized tours to Athens are available or use the metro, express bus or a taxi. The cheapest option is the metro and the option we had planned to use before I booked our massages in the middle of the day.
Note – We had rough seas leaving Piraeus. I was told from crew members that the rough seas are typical that time of year.
Limassol, Cyprus – The friendly people in the Old City was what sold us on Limassol. Everyone was more than willing to give directions or just chat about their country. We didn’t plan an excursion, just walked around the city center and the waterfront. There was a little playground along the water next to the pier for the kids to stop and play. All around the city, you could smell meat cooking on outdoor rotisseries.
We purchased a traditional coffee maker called a mbrikia. These small, long handled pots were traditionally made of copper. Derrick’s is made of brass as it’s supposed to make the coffee taste better. The shop owner explained to Derrick all about the tradition of making coffee and even took Derrick to his office to show off his personal mbrikias.
Kaden found a skate shop and chatted with one of the employees for about 30 minutes. They talked about skateboarding and kite surfing and how it was the perfect day with all the wind. Kaden bought skate socks and stickers including one in Greek that translates to “skate local” – we hope.
Rhodes, Greece – Just 12 miles off the Turkish coast lies the Greek island of Dodecanese. The main attraction in Rhodes is the walled Old Town. It’s amazing that the massive wall still exists today. We entered through St. Catherine’s Gate, walked down the Avenue of Knights and visited the 14th century Palace of the Grand Masters.
However, the favorite part of our day was wandering the streets of the Jewish neighborhood. It was fascinating to see Rhodes off the tourist track. We even chatted with a Greek man who was sitting in an outdoor cafe drinking coffee. That was one of our most memorial moments in Rhodes.
Heraklion, Greece – Steeped in history is the Greek Island of Crete. Instead of visiting the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Knossos, we just wandered around the city & stopped for a coffee. Derrick finally tried a traditional Greek one. If you like a strong brew, we would recommend giving it a try. If we went back again, I would definitely make a trip to Knossos, though.
Civitavecchia, Italy – I’d highly recommend a tour to Rome if this is your first visit. There isn’t much to see in the port city of Civitavecchia. Since we had recently visited Rome, we decided to enjoy the ship instead and just get off to shop at the grocery store. You can get to Rome from the port by an organized tour, train, bus or private transfer. The cheapest option is the regional train.
The price couldn’t be beat for a family cruise. This was one of the cheapest cruises we’ve been on with the kids. Other than disappointment with the food, it was a great cruise for the entire family. Just keep in mind that the cruise has two parts- the cruise itself and the port calls. We loved these stops which gave us a wide range of destinations. The kids even checked off their 25th county!
Don’t miss our MSC Cruise Travel Secrets! We have over 20 tips & tricks for sailing with MSC.