MSC Vs Royal Caribbean What’s The Difference?


Have you cruised on Royal Caribbean and want to try something else? What is the difference between MSC vs Royal Caribbean? Do you choose MSC or Royal Caribbean? Nowadays the cruise lines are competing to have the largest and most technical ships at sea. Royal Caribbean’s newest ships boast to be the largest and then along comes MSC with a brand new floating dream ship. But how do you choose the best cruise for you?

Lots of people cruise with Royal Caribbean its known as suitable for families but what about MSC? MSC is known as the family cruise line. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean for 10 years and are diamond members so we love it! After doing a couple of days on the naming of MSC’s Bellissima we were intrigued and looked for something in a port in Spain near where we would be during the summer holidays. So whether you want to try Oasis class ships on Royal Caribbean or MSC’s Bella, Fantastica or Aurea packages here is what we think the differences are between the two cruise lines.

What is better for families MSC vs Royal Caribbean?

So what did we think and why is there so much hype about Royal Caribbean? 

We booked the yacht club on MSC his time. This post is based on our experience as a whole but does include some of the suites benefit differences on both ships. On first look, MSC is very glamourous and screams luxury! Did this experience continue? Yes, it did!

We could not fault the service, drinks, the ship or the food. MSC surprised us in more ways than one.

What is the main difference between MSC vs Royal Caribbean?

MSC is an Italian cruise company while Royal Caribbean is an American Company. The company was founded in Naples in Italy in 1989. MSC Cruises are the world’s largest privately held cruise company. They are also known for their glamorous ships and Swarovski staircases.

Royal Caribbean is a Public company that was founded in Miami, Florida in 1968. They are known for their entertainment, promenade parties, deck parties and fun!

Royal Caribbean do offer different ports of call in the Caribbean that are not offered by MSC. Likewise MSC offer ports of call in Europe and the Caribbean that are not offered by Royal Caribbean.

Your first decision should be where do you want to cruise? Then who do you want to cruise with?

Which has the largest Ships? Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises?

Royal Caribbean currently has the largest ship. The Wonder of the Seas is currently the Worlds largest cruise ship at 236,857 GT, which also makes Wonder Of The Seas the heaviest passengers cruise ship in the world. Additionally, she holds 6998 passengers; this again is a world-beating number.

MSC Cruises largest cruise ship is the MSC World Europa coming in at 205.7 tons and holding 6774 passengers making it marginally smaller than Royal Caribbean’s current ship as of 2023.

Oasis of the Seas ship Royal Caribbean

AD We have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy and privacy policy for more details.

What is the Price difference between MSC and Royal Caribbean?

How different is the pricing on Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises? It is difficult to say for definite but the pricing varies. When it comes to suites there is a big price increase on Royal Caribbean compared to MSC but then there are a lot of differences between the cabins. The general opinion is that people search on both and MSC comes up cheaper for families in addition they often have deals where kids under 12 often sail for free.

MSC Bellissima in the sea, difference between MSC and Royal Carribean?

Whats the difference between Children’s clubs and activities on MSC vs Royal Caribbean.

Kids club! What is the difference between MSC and Royal Caribbean?

The children clubs are good on both cruise lines both MSC children clubs and Royal Caribbean kids clubs  offer different age ranges from babies, young children, tweens and teens.

Main differences concerning children are that MSC offer babysitting for a fee. Royal Caribbean do not offer babysitting anymore unless you are in suite which is such a shame.

MSC children clubs are partnered with Lego, Duplo and Chicco so you have the best brands. The kids planners on both cruise lines are similar with activities for all ages.

On MSC we saw lots of children and babies in the bars late at night in buggies. This was nice the bars were not to busy and it was more relaxed.

There are similar activities on MSC as on RC for the teens but there are also different languages to deal with. Our teens found this no problem even though they thought it would be. On both cruise lines there are english speaking staff so smaller children should feel comfortable and so should you as a parent.

Our teen boys were worried embarking on MSC as on Royal Caribbean they had no problem making friends. However as with large groups of teens there can be problems. On MSC the children were from all different nationalities, Spanish, Italian, french and many more. The children conversed made friends and learnt many pockets of different languages.

My sons words before boarding MSC were “I was worried about coming on here and and now I don’t want to get off! Ive learnt more Spanish here in a week than I did a school!’

MSC has lots of cool stuff such as the 4D theatre and the formula one simulators. Royal Caribbean has laser and iceskating to name but a few

The MSC Bellissima Kidsclub the Junior club
The MSC Bellissima Kidsclub the Junior club

 Drink packages on Royal Caribbean versus MSC. 

Differences between the drink packages on MSC vs Royal Caribbean.

MSC drink packages

Easy package which includes all drinks up to 6 euros. This would include wine and beers. ( roughly £29 per day as of 2023) Cruise drink package prices have risen this year and can only be viewed when logged in to your cruise.

The premium package which is all drinks priced up to 10 euros with selected spirits, juices coffees and teas.( £40 – €44 per day as of 2023) 

The premium plus package which give you complete freedom with all drinks by the glass with a price cap limit of up to €13 / $15! ( roughly £52 or €62 per day as of 2023)

MSC Non alcoholic package adults, which includes alcohol free cocktails and sodas. ( roughly £20 or €23 per day as of 2023) 

MSC Non alcoholic package kids complete freedom for kids with alcohol free cocktails, sodas and fruit juice’s and even hot chocolates. ( roughy £15 or €15 per day as of 2023 )

Cocktail on the MSC Divina
Cocktail on the MSC Divina

Royal Caribbean drink packages

Deluxe beverage package which lets you enjoy any beverage onboard including cocktails, wines, spirits, soda, squeezed juices and premium tea and coffee. You also receive a discount on any bottles of wine you wish to purchase – 40% off of bottles priced up to $100 and 20% off of bottles priced over $100. Between $63.00 and $98.00 plus gratuities per day but changes depending on the sailing.

The refreshment package is a great idea for those who do not wish to purchase alcohol. You can enjoy any selection of premium coffees and teas along with bottled water, freshly squeezed juices, non alcoholic cocktails and any choice from the soda package. Between $29.00 and $38.00 plus gratuities per day.

The classic soda package includes unlimited soda fountain refills in your own souvenir cup.  Perfect for kids. $12.99 – $15.00 plus gratuities per day.

Cafe select coffee card  15 types of specialty coffees, premium teas and hot chocolates. This Royal Caribbean coffee package lets you purchase a card that is punched as you go saving you up 50% on each drink. A one a time purchase card that can be shared between guests.

The drinks on both cruise lines are similar with cocktails and spirits. The wine on the MSC had a wider choice including more Mediterranean choices where as RC is more Californian wines.

Venchi ice-cream is included in Yacht club including the milkshakes.

The actual drink prices on MSC are cheaper with cocktails averaging at around 8 euros (7 pounds where as on Royal caribbean cocktails are around 13 dollars (£11.50)

See the Royal Caribbean drinks packages info here!

Spirits at the Bionic bar Symphony of the Seas royal Caribbean
Spirits at the Bionic bar Symphony of the Seas royal Caribbean

Entertainment differences on MSc Vs Royal Caribbean.

MSC Entertainment.

The theatre experiences differ on MSC  and Royal but mainly due to the mix of nationalities watching. 

MSC shows are mainly song and dance acts and a lot is sung in English some will be in italian. The audience seem to clap more but I have seen children running up and down the aisles on MSC. There are no drink holders in the seats in the MSC theatre and there is no one serving drinks so you would need to get one before. The quality of the entertainment staff is amazing! and the shows are still top quality and include Magic shows and circus acts.

They also held themed nights such as the white pool party on deck.

There were Kids from the kids clubs on stage every night before show doing something they had learnt in kids club. Some people may not like this but its quite cute and the children seem to enjoy themselves. We personally did love this sort of thing when ours were little. Show starts later than the programmed time and you can rock up and get a seat late.

The newer MSC ships have Cirque du Soleil show’s which there  is a small charge for.

We found the daytime activities lacking on MSC there were only one or two quizzes but this could be down to the language barriers.

Royal Caribbean night life and shows.

Royal Caribbean show are excellent quality, you will experience Ice shows, tribute acts and set shows every night. There is a lot of choice on Royal Caribbean. There are shows that are more suitable for children which tell a story as well as circus acts and magic shows. They hold parties on the promenades, sail away parties, themed nights and even silent discos.

You can get drinks in the theatre and there are holders for your glasses. You will also be served drinks as well in the theatre. In the daytime there are plenty of quizzes and activities.

Bars and Lounges comparison on MSC and Royal Caribbean

The MSC style is more relaxed and low key. The bars appear to be quieter there are pubs on the two newer ships offering music. The lounges are more like jazz and are not busy. They have a disco for all ages but adults only when late.

There are bars which sing in another language which are busier but there are English singing bars as well.

Royal Caribbean seem to have some more innovative bars such as the Bionic Bar on some ships. It seems to be a tad more lively onboard and caters more towards the British and American market.

Lounge bar on MSC Divina
Lounge bar on MSC Divina

Pools on MSC vs Royal

Pools, what is the difference between MSC and Royal Caribean?

MSC shut pools at night which I think is a great idea. Being the parent of a teens my fear is lots of kids gettting in the pool or jacuzzis late at night which is what generally happens on Royal Caribbean. As parents we find ourselves going out to check where they are and what they are doing. 

MSC drain down the pools and net over the jacuzzis after the lifeguard has left. Often with peer pressure and children finally finding friends they want to sit in the hot tubs after dark. This is not something that sits right with me and often on all inclusive holidays and cruise I find myself worrying and trapsing  around trying to find them. 

This gives me a comfort to know that the pools are drained and covered. Obviously let your child know! 

Royal Caribbean do not do this and there are often groups of kids in jacuzzis way in to the early hours.

All pools are similar and there are lots of sunbeds available on both. There were plenty of Jacuzzis on both cruise lines however I found MSC to be quieter during the day around the pool.

Water park on Royal Caribbean international versus MSC

Both cruise lines have a water Park Royal Caribbean cruises has water slides such as the Cyclone, Typhoon and super cell as well as Splashaway Bay for little ones.

MSC’s new ships have Aquaventure  water parks which are multi layered with slides and shoots. The older ships may not have these so you need to check by ship.

MSC Divinia overlooking the pool area
MSC Divinia overlooking the pool area

Ports of call on Royal Caribbean versus MSC

MSC does a port every day meaning you get lots of choice. You really don’t feel like you have to get off every day.

We love the flexibility of being able to book your holiday any day of the ships itinerary. It means that some people you meet on the ship may be getting off the next day. It’s a constant change of people daily which can be nice. This is also generally means no sea days.

Kids in Portofino in italy
Portofino in italy

Muster Drill and check in

The muster drill on MSC is everyday due to people embarking daily. Which can be a bit of a pain if you have decided to have your sunny nap on deck around 4 o’clock. You tend not to notice after a while but this flexibility means that you can board at any port and do your muster drill there and then so you can relax for the rest of the holiday. You have to take your lifejackets with you on MSC.

Royal Caribbean muster drill is just on embarkation day and you do not need your life jacket with you.

You will recieve your key card on arrival at the check in desk on Royal Caribbean. It is a very smooth check in even though there are lots of people all embarking on that one day. 

MSC is just as straight forward but you need your printed tickets to get on to your ship. You will find your keycards in your state room.

Children’s muster bands are obtained on arrival on both MSC and Royal Caribbean. All of the muster announcements are made in many languages possibly more on MSC.


Buffet restaurants MSC had slightly less choice but good quality food and fantastic Italian pizza. 

Royal Caribbean has a lot more choice in the buffet and included a range of food from different nationality’s such as Asian food.

The main dining room good quality in both restaurants with good service. The MSC choices of food on the menu was slighter less than Royal Caribbean. I had no complaints about the food in fact in my opinion it was better! Many people say thet the portion size is smaller but I didn’t mind,  you can always ask for more! Freshly cooked meats and fish on MSC was fabulous.

Suite level 

The suites in Yacht club on MSC are considered to be all inclusive therefore you will have a fully stocked fridge in your room and a drinks package. Your fridge is replenished daily. You do not get WIFI with a suite. In the yacht club on MSC sparkling champagne is actually champagne and not sparkling wine, you can also get prosecco.

You can book a suite not in Yacht club but this will not get you access to the yacht club area. In suites not in Yacht club you would have the Fantastica and Aurea Experiences . These suites are on MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa and MSC Magnifica with some cabins accommodating up to 5 people.

Royal Caribbean Suites can be even more pricey but you get access to the suite lounge and coastal kitchen if you have one. I felt like the MSC Yacht club had the edge over Royal it felt more exclusive.

Full details of the Royal caribbean Royal suite level here 

A few more differences.

Dress code

We found MSC to be less dressy in general however on formal night long trousers in the muse restaurant ( yacht club ) had to be worn.

Royal caribbean are quite relaxed but you do see more people dressed up for formal night. 


There seemed to be more elevators throughout the ship on MSC however still busy when boarding.

You also get priority lifts on MSC in yacht club by swiping your key card.


If you get WiFi on Royal you pay by day and it will work on one device you can swap devices by logging out and you can purchase more packages.

On MSC you purchase your WIFI and you get a set amount to use with up to 4 devices. Our MSC WIFI ran out on day one as it used the data that the back ground apps were running. We didn’t even get the chance to surf the net. Royal Caribbeans WIFI packages work much better.


There seemed to be less toilets some often one toilet in some areas on MSC.  Some areas did not seem to have the same level of cleanliness as Royal especially around by the busy pool areas.

Take a look at MSC Drinks packages here!

Royal Caribbean drinks packages guide

MSC loyalty status match

If you are a frequent traveller on Royal caribbean and are a Crown and anchor member MSC will match your status. Get the match prior to first sailing online here.

Thank you for reading what is the difference between MSC and Royal Caribbean?

We will be traveling on a few more MSC ships before the year is out so we update this post with all that we find!

D x


  • Donna Vallance

    Donna loves cruising with her husband and two teenage boys. Having cruised with the children from a young age she feels it is the perfect way to experience the world safely. Her boys are social butterfly’s and love meeting other children their own age whilst onboard some of the most extraordinary floating ships. She also writes over at Like Love Do, a travel memoir of her trips, from London to far off beaches. She has an eye for the unusual and like to go off of the beaten track just to find the perfect photo. With a passion for photography and exploring cruising has become the perfect holiday choice.

    View all posts

5 thoughts on “MSC Vs Royal Caribbean What’s The Difference?”

  1. This is an amazing post-jam-packed with so many questions that I needed answers to!
    We have cruised with RC for some time now but fancy a change.
    Thank you

  2. Very good information, thank you for the comprehensive review! 🙂

  3. Thanks for information have been on 6 rc cruises going on seashore in July 2021 looking forward to it now can’t see by Royal Caribbean

  4. Booked a cruise on ms divina for feb 2022 but iam very concerned about bad reviews there seems to many bad reviews about this cruise ship

  5. We loved the Divina! Although it’s often about where you are and who you are with. If you love MSC you will be pleased. It’s a nice size ship with great itineraries. We went to Italy in 2019 and it was fantastic. We did do yacht club though x


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.