Review of the MSC Musica: An Ageing Ship with Cheaper Sailing, but Still Doing the Job

MSC Musica

I’ve reviewed several of the newest MSC ships in the past, such as the MSC Seaview, the MSC Seaside and the MSC Meraviglia, and following my experience on these newer “state of the art” overcrowded ships, I had agreed that I preferred the older ships such as the MSC Divina, which on both occasion I have sailed her, always provided a great cruising experience! This time around, I was again pleasantly surprised by the older MSC Musica, a ship that is a few years short of its 20 years of sailing. Sure, signs of wear can be found here and there, but overall, counting as one of MSC’s older and smallest ships of the fleet with about 92000 gross tonnage, it still has great potential! So what exactly does the MSC Musica provide for your next cruise experience?

Ratings

  • Check-in / Check-out: 7/10
  • Entertainment onboard: 5/10
  • Theater Shows: 8/10
  • Ship Common Areas 5/10
  • Ship Comfort: 6/10
  • Room Comfort: 7/10
  • Service Quality: 7/10
  • Food: 7/10
  • Cleanliness: 5/10
  • Quality/Price: 8/10
  • Overall satisfaction: 7/10

Special Note on the rating System: The rating system on my Cruise Reviews is based out of comparison to what many consider the best cruise line over the board: Royal Carribbean. In fact, Royal Caribbean has become so good at the game that they currently have a steady 25% of the clientele of cruise ships over the world, a very considerable amount. I must agree that Royal Caribbean is the best experience one can have on a cruise, and this is due to the fact that they are excellent in absolutely all the categories I list in my Rating articles. When I say excellent, this means they pretty much rank a 8/10 without exception. Some cruise lines may have one or two categories with higher ratings than RCCL, but may lack in other categories. So in my rating system, for comparison purposes, if a category ranks 7/10, it means it is lesser than the RCCL’s average, while a 9/10 means an Exceptional rating, better than the RCCL Average.

The Musica, with little music…

Boarding the MSC Musica, I expected to have the music theme showcased all over the place. I expected more bands and musicians than the average ship. But surprisingly not… Instead, I was greeted with the usual ship from the 1990s, aging but well-maintained through the years. A little bit like old planes of the 90s had big sofas for their passengers instead of the new modern cramped seats of Ryanair, the Musica feels comfortable, Specially compared with their newer fleet such as the Magnifica, which felt like a cardboard construction to me. The ship feels well-built and still feels clean after all those years. So I was excited to see what the experience would provide on my 7 days cruise around the Adriatic sea, leaving from Venice and visiting several ports in Greece on the way.

Entertainment onboard “Fun Factor”

The entertainment onboard wasn’t bad but was on the weaker side. There was a big team of entertainers but somehow it felt a little bit unmotivated. What disappointed me was the musicians. A part from a few musicians which I really enjoyed, such as the guitarist in the main lobby who had a wow factor with his great voice, most of them didn’t provide anything special. It felt as if they would play the same 8 songs over and over again every night. The pianist in the main lobby was used more in a “background music” mode, than a show of his own. I noticed him playing the same song 3 nights in a row, sometimes he played it twice on the same night. Still a great musician, but I would have enjoyed seeing him play in one of the specialized rooms and with more emphasis on this music than just in front of the reception with very little space to sit.

Being on a ship named “Music” I would have expected some classical music, some concertos like on Holland America, etc… Instead, I felt there was much less quality music than on any other cruise ship I have taken in the past. Definitely a weak point here, but some could argue it wrong. There is still good entertainment onboard, just not to the quality of other MSC ships or other companies.

Entertainment onboard: 5/10

Theater Shows

Just wow! Really, most people in the industry know that this is the category that MSC Dominates! And just as in any other MSC Ships, the dancers and singers did not disappoint. Every single night, we were treated to a new interesting show, without exception! Some companies provide only 2 or 3 nights out of a weekly cruise, to their singers and dancers, filling the gap with boring comedians, etc… MSC Understood very well the recipe of the “broadway style” shows, with a great squad! I was even more impressed at the team since usually, MSC moves its best dancers and singers to the newer ships! And since there are now several newer ships that have just set sail, I was expected to receive MSC’s worst-performing artist. But that was not the case! The singers had amazing voices! Very impressive, specially WADE the American singer, and the two female singers. The dancers were also showing a lot of interest in their act, and really seemed to enjoy what they were doing! Which reflected in an amazingly interesting show!

Even the trio of African acrobats that have become a staple in cruise ship shows were some of the best I’ve seen. And this is a high note, especially at MSC which seems to provide one team of these acrobats on each ship. Their act was impressive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get promoted on newer ships very soon.

Overall, I want to send Congratulations to the production team behind the scene, which must keep the pressure high to provide quality shows like these!

Result Theater Shows: 8/10

Room Comfort

The rooms felt good for the most part and provided with a great experience. The Balconies were large to sit two people, which was a plus on these greek sunny days with great views of Santorini! On the downside, they might start to feel a little old in some parts. Some leak of water started pouring down from the roof in the hallway… There were also strange smells, especially with the blankets, which could enjoy a little refit. My only other complaint was the thin walls which would make us hear anything the neighbors would say, especially when a party would go on during the night, enough to keep us awake.

Result Room Comfort: 7/10

Service Quality

I was surprised by the quality of the service on the ship. Definitely, the large staff coming from the Philippines helped in this matter, since they always, without fault, provide the best service with their impeccable manners. I have had really bad experiences with the service on MSC usually, which has always been a weaker part of the cruise line. This might be an improvement that is across the board, or maybe it is only on the MSC Musica. Anyhow, the ship deserves its points in this category, as I have had a great experience overall. The staff was always smiling and acknowledging passengers’ presence for the most part, compared with the Seaview and the Magnifica where arrogance and disinterest of the staff could be felt everywhere and all the time.

Result Service Quality: 7/10

Cleanliness

At the time of boarding, MSC had just eliminated the requirements of testing for covId before boarding. And since Italy was experiencing a little wave while I was there, I would have expected special measures to be taken to keep viruses from spreading around the ship. Cruise ships are prone to have viruses spread, and in times of pandemIc, it would have been wise to still be careful. On the contrary, I have noted absolutely no effort to keep surface areas clean and disinfected, especially in the main buffet. The only measure that could be seen was the gel dispensers, but there was actually no more than the usual pre-pandemIc times. Actually, it was worse than before, as I have routinely found that, many times, the gel dispensers were empty.

One could hear the crowd coughing all the time, and nothing was done, except for a questionnaire at check-in, asking if anybody has “symptoms” like coughing. This was obviously only “blabla”, as they obviously didn’t care… It really felt like 10% of the passengers were coughing all over the place, without any sort of caring for other passengers and covering up, let alone, wearing a mask. I think MSC could have helped avoid the spread of disease by mandating people with a persistent cough, to use a mask, at the very least. They only mandated their own staff to use a mask, even the healthy ones… This didn’t make sense to me.

Result Cleanliness: 5/10

Food

Surprisingly, I was happy with the food! The buffet had a nice selection of meals in general and seemed to me much better than on the other MSC cruises. The evening menu was always very tasty and diverse as well. The chef definitely knew what he was doing, and I was gladly satisfied. There wasn’t any incredible surprise or any special food like Lobster nights like on most higher quality cruises. But apart from that, nothing to complain about, especially considering it is a lower-priced cruise. Definitely high quality/price value!

Result Food: 7/10

Fellow Passengers On-Board

The passengers on board this cruise, leaving from Monfalcone port in eastern Italy, were mostly Italians and Slovenians. Probably 75%. This was an interesting and unusual crowd compared to the most American crowds I am used to seeing on most ships. Most of the time, there was not even an English speaker when the animation team questioned the crowd. Only big cheers from the Italians and Slovenians crowd. The crowd was mostly families as well, large Italian familes with 10 or even 20 members, that could make it quite noisy at times. So not the typical romantic cruise for couples. The MSC Musica sails almost yearly to Brazil and was set to leave a few weeks after my week onboard. So the crowd will shift to a more Latin style when it sails around Brazil.

Conclusion

I had previously named MSC the Ryanair of cruise ships in some of my reviews back in 2019. While the company has had a few years of pause due to the pandemic, I still think it is accurate to quality MSC as the Ryanair of cruiseships, with attractive prices but omnipresent methods to add additional fees to one’s bill. However, this time around, I have found a new name for MSC: the Xiaomi of cruise ships! And this is a positive attribute.

My comparison comes to the fact that, a few years ago, MSC jumped into the growing cruise market by copying the most successful cruise companies, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Just like a Chinese Phone, MSC was mostly copying the recipe to success that those more well-known companies had formed. This started very chaotically, and since my first cruise with MSC about 8 years ago, it always felt like a lower-quality product. MSC has had a few more years to improve and is now showing signs that it no longer simply plays “catch up” but might soon be a contender at the very top, the same as Xiaomi has done with their latest phones, now considered some of the best in the business!

MSC Musica might be one of the older ships in their fleet, but definitely still deserves a try considering its attractive quality/price ratio! Would I sail again on the Musica? If the destinations were attractive and the price was still “right”, I would definitely give it another go, as I enjoyed my trip on her! Overall, I believe the MSC Musica has a great team, providing quality service, great shows, and a very nice menu.

Do I recommend it? Sure! Can they improve? Yes, but overall, considering the quality-price factor, they provide a perfect escape for the markets it aims at.

Overall satisfaction: 7/10

In Pictures

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Review of the MSC Musica: An Ageing Ship with Cheaper Sailing, but Still Doing the Job #mscmusica #msc #cruisereview #cruiseship
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