MSC Virtuosa

MSC Cruises

Ship information

MSC Virtuosa

About MSC Virtuosa

Best for: Families, couples who enjoy late-night entertainment, foodies

Not for: Those seeking a quiet, small-ship experience (except in the Yacht Club)

Bottom Line: Big, fun, family-friendly ship with lots to keep the kids and adults entertained

MSC Virtuosa is the fourth in the line's popular Meraviglia Class of ships and the second Meraviglia-plus class ship (the first is MSC Grandiosa), which means it's bigger, has more features onboard and can carry a whopping 6,200 passengers at full occupancy. For cruisers who like a big ship experience with large production shows, multiple drinking and eating venues and always something going on, day and night, topped with a European flair, then this is the ship for you.

And for cruisers who are perhaps put off by all that commotion and want more of a sophisticated experience at sea, then Virtuosa could also be the ship for you.

How so?

The MSC Yacht Club -- the keycard access-only, all suite enclave across three decks at the front of the ship, complete with lounge, restaurant and sun deck -- which for our money, is one of the best splurges at sea.

The ship is vast, and when you are in the main promenade, the Galleria Virtuosa, it's quite possible to forget you are even on a ship. Galleria Virtuosa is lined with shops, bars and restaurants across two decks, and topped with an extraordinary 80-meter-long LED ceiling display, which changes throughout the day. At one end is the triple deck atrium, where you'll find more bars, all connected by a criss-cross set of stairs studded with Swarovski crystal. It's a feast for the senses, and simultaneously stunning and overwhelming, especially for the first timer.

Compared with American-based lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, there are not the large number of specialty dining venues to choose from, just a handful of tried-and-tested ones including an American steakhouse, Butcher's Cut; a Mexico-themed restaurant, Hola! Tacos; and a Teppanyaki/sushi bar, Kaito Teppanyaki.

You also won't find quite as many high-adrenaline activities as you would on those lines, such as go-karting, simulated surfing or bumper cars, but the ship does have a waterpark and a ropes course, as well as a fantastic games arcade.

One area MSC in general leads the way, and Virtuosa is no exception, are the family facilities, from the LEGO-themed kids club, to the onboard activities, family cabins, mealtimes and sports court, this ship is like a giant playground for kids of all ages.

Tech plays a big part in the MSC Virtuosa experience, and you are encouraged to download the MSC for Me app, which allows you to make bookings in restaurants, shows and the spa, keep track of your booked activities and your onboard spending, as well as keep track of your kids. You'll also be presented with a wristband that acts as your cruise card, so it opens your door and pays for drinks and onboard purchases, like a SmartWatch.

Virtuosa delivers across the board, whether that's for kids or adults, families or couples: it's fun, frenetic and fabulous.


Health & Safety

MSC Cruises is mandating a fully vaccinated policy for those 18 and older or a negative antigen (lateral flow) test. What this means, of course, is that kids of all ages are welcome and the traditional family mix you would expect on an MSC cruise is maintained.

The ships are also at this time (summer 2021) sailing with reduced capacity, in line with U.K. government guidelines, capped at 50 percent of occupancy, which works out at around 3,600 passengers.

Note, however, that due to social distancing, many of the big gatherings MSC Cruises is famous for are reduced significantly, with multiple events taking place at the same time to avoid large crowds.

Before Boarding

  • Proof of double vaccination or a negative antigen (lateral flow) test
  • COVID-19 insurance
  • Pre-boarding test

Onboard

  • Masks in all public spaces
  • Social distancing
  • Daily temperature tests
  • Weekly lateral flow (antigen) test
  • Capacity limits in all bars and restaurants
  • Pre-booking encouraged via the MSC for Me app
  • Ordering via QR codes instead of physical menus
  • Sanitizing stations all over the ship
  • Fresh mask in your cabin every night

Off the ship

  • Shore excursion bubbles -- no independent trips
Cabins

MSC Virtuosa has 23 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

4 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

4 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

4 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

4 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

14 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Daytime Fun

Though you won't find the headline grabbing attractions you find on the American big ships, MSC Virtuosa has plenty to keep you occupied during the day including two large pools, an indoor Solarium with hot tubs, top-deck waterslides, a ropes course, basketball and football tournaments in the Sports Complex and all manner of fun in the Games Arcade, including a 4D cinema where you don 3D glasses and shoot zombies, a VR maze, two F1 simulators and two bowling lanes. 

Tip: Note all the activities in the Games Arcade carry a charge and rather than pay-as-you-go, we recommend getting a Fun Pass card.

At Night

Le Grande Theater

The 975-person, Broadway-style theater at the front of the ship that hosts several different shows a week, twice a night. Most of these are revue-style performances with lots of energetic dancing and music through the ages or themes, such as a Moulin Rouge-style Paris-themed show, or one set in New York. As MSC caters for multiple nationalities most of these shows don't have much dialogue, but rely on great singing, dancing and often acrobatics.

The show runs twice a night, timed to fit in with meal times and guests are encouraged to book (it's free, it's just for capacity restrictions).

Carousel Lounge

MSC has created two outstanding new shows to fill this space after a tie-up with Cirque du Soleil ended during the pandemic. Drawing heavily on Cirque-style and aesthtic, both productions showcase dancing, acrobatics, juggling and astonishing moves such as "walking" perpindicular to the walls (on ropes). There is no real plot or dialogue, it's more about loosely knit set pieces showing off the extraordinary skills of the artists.
Arkymea is themed round a nutty professor and his various experiments, which manage to combine some quite astonishing gravity-defying body popping as well as some extraordinary steel cube spinning; Ajedrez has a chess theme, combined with rock music. Two opposing queens challenge each other to win the king's heart. Throughout the story, you meet the various characters of the chess board, from bishops to knights, characterized by life-size statues, as the teams battle it out to the sound of a ticking chess clock.
At 45-minutes long, these are also ideal for kids of any age. There is also a small fee, which includes a drink.

Tip: Limited seats means this is worth booking ahead.

Casino

Red Gem Casino is toward the back of the ship on Deck 7, split in two by a walkway that leads to the Carousel Lounge. There is a circular bar in the center and gaming tables and slots on both sides.

Tip: Promotions take place every day; check your Daily Program for details.

Galleria Virtuosa

This is the heart and soul of the ship, where there is always something going on night or day. Split across two decks, here you will find the majority of shops, bars and restaurants.

MSC Virtuosa has the largest retail space at sea with a variety of shops including a logo shop, an essentials shop, duty free and a number of high-end watch, jewellery and handbag stores. Listen out for the "events" often announced over the PA or in your Daily Planner for BOGO offers and deep discounts, usually toward the end of the cruise.

But look up for the real standout -- a truly stunning 80m, ever-changing LED ceiling where different scenes are projected throughout the day and where there is a Dome Show at set times in the evening. It's breathtaking.

The Galleria is also where the ship's biggest theme parties take place such as Flower Power or Space-themed nights in which the animation team stand on podiums dressed up encouraging passengers to get up and dance as a DJ spins tunes from one of the walkways across the promenade (note this is currently quite a muted affair due to COVID restrictions).

You'll also find master chocolatier Jean Philippe Maury's chocolate shop and café, where you can pick up a chocolate ship if you wish; and opposite an ice-cream stand selling gelato and crepes.

Bars & Nightlife

MSC Virtuosa is no slouch when it comes to nightlife -- there are at least 10 places to drink till late spread across the ship. The majority are along or just off the main promenade and Atrium, which is where almost all the night-time action takes place.

Our Picks

Heart of the Action: Virtuosa Bar. This is a prime spot just outside the Theater, where you'll find a dance floor and constant crowds of people. It also gives you a great spot for the events that take place most nights in the Galleria Virtuosa.

For a Sing Song: TV Studio and Bar. You'll find a stage and karaoke most nights.

For Something Different: MSC Starship Club Bar, in which Rob the Robotic Bartender will serve you up a cocktail of your choice -- plus you get a free plastic glass. It's gimmicky and over-priced, but fun.

For Something Elegant: The Champagne Bar. Wrapped around the Atrium, with its Swarovski crystal staircases, this is the place to dress up, come for a pre- or post-dinner Champagne and do some people-watching or have your picture taken. It's very blingy.

For a Pint n' Fish n' Chips: Masters of the Sea Pub is an English-style pub which will serve you up a wide range of pints, drafts and bottled beers with a side of fish n' chips. Trivia takes place here most evenings. In a great spot with outside tables overlooking the main promenade.

For a Quiet Drink: The Sky Lounge. This is the one bar that is not on or just off the main promenade, but high up on Deck 17 overlooking the pool deck. There is often a piano and a singer and it's one of the few quiet-ish places onboard. You'll find the cigar room adjacent.

Dining

Included:

The quality of the food onboard MSC Virtuosa, both free and for fee, is of a high standard and a lot of it (mozzarella, bread, pasta) is made fresh daily. All meals are included in your fare and if you're on a seven-day cruise you will not be bored if you eat in the main dining rooms every evening (note, depending on which "Experience" you opt for, you will be assigned a specific dining room), and the buffet during the day, so varied are the food options. However, just for a change, you might wish to try out one of the specialty restaurants, which are not included in your cruise fare, one evening.

In all four main dining rooms, dinner is a three- or four-course affair, with a different menu every night, which will always include a freshly made pasta dish and a fish dish. There are also always-available dishes including steamed fish fillet and grilled chicken breast. There is also a suggested a Healthy Option menu, complete with calories, fat, carbs and protein.

Twice a cruise there is a gala dinner, which ups the ante even higher. The Executive Chef will prepare a five-course menu which might include cream of asparagus and beef consomme to start and herb-crusted tenderloin or pan-seared salmon as entrees.

Marketplace Buffet
If you're after a quick casual bite, then the buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day and into the early hours. Pasta, bread and mozzarella (made in a machine at the entrance) are made fresh daily. There will always be some sort of regional cuisine on offer as well as salads, pizza, a daily roast, burgers, soups and grilled fish and chicken. For dessert you'll find sweets and cheeses on offer.
Note that the buffet is not self-serve, you simply point to the dish you want and are served. Same with drinks.

Specialty Restaurants:

Unlike the big U.S. cruise ships, there are relatively few fee dining options, but what the ship lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. There's no need to eat in these, but if you wanted a change and you craved a specific cuisine or you have an occasion to celebrate, it might be fun to try one.

The line also offers a Dining Package, which includes three restaurants at a set price which you can buy onboard or before you set sail.

Tip: Check your MSC for Me app to see what special offers these restaurants might have on. Sometimes they will throw in a free bottle of wine, especially on the first night or on a port day.

Indochine
($$$$)
A new-to-the-line venue which is a Vietnamese-French fusion concept, in a beautiful setting nestled at the back of the Bistrot. It's not cheap, but it is definitely the most refined of the five for-fee options, with exceptional service, décor and cuisine. Also note, although it's billed French-Vietnamese fusion, the emphasis is much more on the Asian flavors so expect spring rolls, tom yam soup and pork belly.

Butcher's Cut
($$$$)
This American-style steakhouse gets our vote for one of the best at sea, with a wide range of excellent cuts of meat (Really hungry? Go for the Tomahawk cut), great sides including mac n' cheese and outstanding desserts including lava cake and New York Cheesecake. The red booths and black and white prints on the walls add to the authenticity. There's a great wine list, with some full-bodied reds as a perfect accompaniment.
Tip: Opt for the set dining package rather than a la carte which is a lot more expensive.

L'Atelier Bistrot
($$$)
A French-themed bistro off the main promenade serving with French classics, such as pate, vichyssoise and, of course, escargots to start; and moules mariniere, boeuf bourginon and steak frites for mains. There's a small stage and live music most evenings.

Kaito Teppanyaki
($$$)
If you are after a show as well as a meal, then this is for you. Anyone familiar with the Teppanyaki concept -- sitting around a hot plate as your chef creates your meal for you -- will feel right at home. There's egg throwing, food flipping, utensil juggling and a constant stream of cheesy gags and songs to keep you permanently smiling. Choose from three different set menus, including a veggie only. The food is great too!

Kaito Sushi
($$)
This is in contrast to the craziness of the teppanyaki, a quiet, authentic sushi bar situated just outside the restaurant, this serves fresh made sushi at very reasonable prices. Excellent for a light lunchtime option.

HOLA! Tacos
($$)
Another new-to-the-line venue, this Mexican-themed restaurant is fun and reasonably priced and great for a quick bite. It also does mezcal tasting. Not ideal for a romantic night out, but fun if you are in a group.

Our Pick:

If you're going to splurge we're torn between Butcher's Cut and Kaito Teppanyaki.

Butcher's Cut gets our vote for truly top-notch steak in a refined setting and would be ideal for a couple.

Kaito Teppanyaki has great Asian cuisine and is so much fun for families with young kids.