As the fourth largest cruise line in the world, MSC Cruises is much like any other major cruise line. You can take an MSC Cruise to many parts of the world, and the cruise vacations the cruise line offers last anywhere from a couple of days to over two weeks. The on-board experience is filled with numerous dining and drinking opportunities, and there are plenty of places to relax, work out, and be entertained. This is what we covered in our last article about MSC Cruises. In that article we did not, however, cover the cruise ships that make up the MSC Cruises fleet. There are 12 cruise ships in the MSC fleet, and there is a new ship in the making, to be released next year. Below you will find a breakdown of the cruise ships of MSC Cruises.
Like the cruise ships of other fleets, MSC Cruises’ vessels are broken into different classes. MSC Cruises has three classes in total – Mistral, Musica, and Fantasia – and all but one of the cruise lines’ 12 ships fit into one of these classes. The ship without a class – the MSC Melody – is part of the “classic fleet” and is several years older than all the other ships. With a passenger capacity of about 1,100, and with a gross tonnage of about 35,000, it is also significantly smaller than the other ships in the fleet. Of course, the fact that it is a smaller and older ship doesn’t mean it is a lesser ship, at least not necessarily, although it has received slightly lower ratings (at least by one metric: the percentage of people who “loved it”) than most of the other ships in the MSC fleet on Cruise Critic, the popular website for cruise reviews.
The Mistral class is composed of four ships: MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica, and MSC Opera. (Just so you know, every ship’s name begins with “MSC.”) These ships are distinct from those in the other two classes in that they are smaller – all of them have a gross tonnage around 58,000 and a passenger capacity of about 1,600 (the MSC Opera is slightly larger in both respects, however) – and that they were built before the ships in the other two fleets. The oldest ship in the Mistral class is the MSC Armonia, built in 2001, and the newest is the MSC Opera, built in 2004, two years before the oldest ship in the Musica class and four years before the oldest ship in the Fantasia class. Moreover, the four ships in the Mistral class were built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a shipyard based in France, whereas the other two classes in the MSC Cruises fleet were built by STX Europe. Again, this makes this class distinct from the other two classes of ships, but not inferior. The ships in this class were rated about the same as the ships in the other classes.
The Musica class is also composed of four ships: MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra, MSC Poesia, and MSC Magnifica. The first two ships have a gross tonnage of 89,600, and the second two are slighter larger, weighing 93,330 tons. The MSC Musica is the oldest ship in this class, having been built in 2006, and the newest vessel, the MSC Magnifica, was built in 2010. All of the ships in this class can hold about the same number of passengers – a little over 2,500.
The Fantasia class is made up of MSC cruises’ newest and largest ships. The MSC Fantasia, built in 2008, and the MSC Splendida, built in 2009, are very similar in size and capacity. Both have a gross tonnage of 137,936 tons and can hold 3,274 passengers. The MSC Divina is larger than both of these ships and is therefore the biggest ship in the entire MSC Cruises fleet. It weighs 139,400 tons and can hold 3,502 passengers. It is also the newest ship in the fleet, having been built in 2012, and perhaps because of this fact it is the highest rated ship in the MSC Cruises fleet, according to Cruise Critic.
Although you might be tempted to always go with the newest and biggest ship, and the ratings seem to suggest as much, this isn’t always the best option. The cruise experience isn’t always better on a larger ship, and more importantly, your cruise vacation should be primarily guided by where the cruise ship goes, not the cruise ship itself. Plus, MSC Cruises is a major cruise line, so their ships will all be nice and comparable to one another.