Why Are MSC Cruises So Cheap?

MSC Cruises has earned a reputation for offering affordable cruise vacations. With fares often significantly lower than other mainstream cruise lines, it’s no wonder many travelers wonder – why are MSC cruises so cheap?

As we’ll explore in this article, there are some clear reasons behind MSC’s value pricing.

Why Are MSC Cruises So Cheap?

One of the main reasons MSC can offer such cheap cruises is due to lower operating costs. MSC Cruises has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

As a European company, MSC benefits from lower labor costs than North American cruise operators.

European crew members typically earn significantly less than those from the U.S. or Canada. With crew expenses taking up a large portion of operating budgets, this allows MSC to save substantially across its fleet.

In addition, MSC operates older ships which are less expensive to maintain than newer vessels. The average age of MSC’s ships is around 15 years.

While the décor and amenities may feel dated to some travelers, focusing on an older fleet is an intentional strategy to keep costs down.

MSC also builds ships efficiently using pre-fabricated blocks. So while onboard ambiance is more functional than flashy, the overall experience still offers tremendous value.

Minimal Included Extras

Another reason cheap cruises can offer lower rates is by stripping away some of the extras that drive up costs on other cruise lines.

Items like Wi-Fi, soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty dining often come with an extra fee on MSC.

The cruise fare covers your stateroom, meals in the main dining rooms, access to most lounges/bars, and entertainment.

However, those looking for more premium inclusions may need to opt for pricier cruise operators or be prepared to open their wallets onboard.

This à la carte approach allows travelers to control costs based on personal preferences. However, it enables MSC to advertise extremely affordable lead-in rates.

Simpler Onboard Ambiance

In addition to fewer included perks, another characteristic of cheap MSC cruises is simpler décor and entertainment. You generally won’t find extras like ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, bowling alleys, expansive water parks, celebrity chef kitchens, or exclusive private enclaves. While they offer comfortable accommodations and amenities, MSC ships have a more modest, old-school vibe focused on core essentials over flashy thrills. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous cruise experience. However, if you want loads of high-tech features or luxury touches, you may prefer more upscale cruise lines (and prices).

European Experience

Catering heavily to European travelers is another central factor allowing MSC Cruises to offer such affordable rates.

Europeans typically take shorter vacations and are accustomed to smaller living quarters.

MSC designs ships and itineraries tailored specifically to these preferences. Staterooms tend to be more compact and cruises usually range from 2-14 nights. You’ll also find decor and amenities resonating with European tastes rather than over-the-top glitz.

So while the experience differs somewhat from traditional North American cruising, this formula attracts savvy travelers on a budget.

Strong Demand

As the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line, MSC operates on an enormous scale. With a fleet of 21 ships and expansion plans to add 6 more mega-liners by 2030, huge passenger volumes help fill ships while keeping fares low.

MSC carries over 3 million guests annually from nearly 200 countries. And over half come from Europe. Catering successfully to the value-focused European market has been the cornerstone of MSC’s rapid growth. With high occupancy levels across the fleet, cheap rates remain sustainable due to sheer efficiency and strong passenger demand.

Savvy Travelers

Of course, paying such low cruise fares often involves some trade-offs. You’ll be expected to pay extra for various onboard amenities and services. Destinations may feel rushed with port stays under 10 or 12 hours. And aspects of ships or service may seem uneven at times.

However, for travelers on a tight budget who pack light, don’t require round-the-clock entertainment, and simply want an affordable way to travel – MSC Cruises offers a lot of experience for the money.

Voyagers willing to adjust expectations in exchange for cheaper prices find MSC a perfect fit. The cruise line appeals most to savvy travelers seeking value over luxury. And that’s why their cabins sell for a fraction of the cost of other big ship cruise operators.

Final Thoughts

With their European roots and fleet of mid-sized, mid-range vessels, MSC Cruises has crafted a product that appeals to value-focused travelers. Thanks to lower operating expenses, limited extras, a simpler onboard experience, and strong passenger demand – they’ve cracked the code for operating highly profitable and affordable vacations at sea.

There’s no question you’ll encounter some differences compared to traditional North American cruising. But for open-minded voyagers on a budget, you really can’t beat the price. The value pricing requires some compromises but allows travelers to enjoy a comfortable cruise vacation at exceptional rates. Ultimately the combination of smart strategies and efficient operations gives MSC the ability to maintain fares far below the competition.