MSC Cruises owns a rich heritage connected to its Italian roots. The cruise line launched in 1989 in Naples, so passengers naturally expect to get great Italian specialties onboard an MSC cruise.
I discovered that the line’s MSC Meraviglia ship certainly delivers when it comes to pizzas and pastas. But there is also a nice range of other cuisines available across a range of specialty restaurants, as well as at the eateries included in your cruise fare.
I sailed on MSC Meraviglia (launched in 2017) for the first time, on a weeklong roundtrip cruise from Miami, in early October 2021. The ship can carry more than 4,500 passengers, but we were sailing with about 1,500 on our voyage as the cruise industry continues to ramp up its restart after the shutdown because of the pandemic.
We visited Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (twice), Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Nassau, Bahamas, with two sea days mixed in. This itinerary gave me plenty of time to savor all that MSC Meraviglia has to offer when it comes to dining. You have to admit that good food is an essential part of a good cruise.
Let’s check out all the dining options available on MSC Meraviglia.
MSC Meraviglia offers four main dining rooms, all serving the same menus of your traditional cruise meals. You’ll find the identically designed and decorated L’Olive Doree and L’Olive D’Oro flanking the hallway entrance to the larger Panorama dining room. These three restaurants on Deck 6 at the aft of the ship offer flexible dining, so you show up when you want.
A deck below, Waves is the main dining room for fixed-time meals (the classic cruise experience for dinner). These restaurants feature a rotating menu of cruise classics like pasta dishes, steaks and tenderloins, as well as excellent seafood preparations and a variety of vegetarian cuisine, including delicious Indian dishes like butter chicken curry.
The Marketplace Buffet is a solid choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The huge space stretches from midship all the way to al fresco seating outdoors at the aft on Deck 15. There are numerous stations, including a carving station serving up pork loin or turkey and other meats and one with fresh-made pizza. The fresh-made pasta dishes are also a mouth-watering choice.
We especially liked the “Wellness” spot where you can get customized salads and fresh fruits. Other areas offer desserts, breads, burgers and hot dogs and plated salads and fruits.
You’ll also find a spot featuring ethnic cuisine, such as Chinese or Indian specialties. The Kids and Family counter offers goodies even the adults will enjoy, like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
If you book a suite in the MSC Yacht Club, like I did, you get a few more wonderful options for dining included in your cruise fare. The Yacht Club is a ship-within-a-ship concept with staterooms and facilities located on Decks 14 through 19 at the very front of MSC Meraviglia. You get butler service and a dedicated lounge, as well as a menu of other amenities.
For dining, MSC Yacht Club has the Yacht Club Restaurant. This is located within the Yacht Club complex and just steps from your stateroom. The menu rotates nightly and offers a range of dishes in similar fashion to those you would find in the ship’s main dining rooms. The bonus is the more intimate surroundings and the extra-special level of service you get from your staff of servers in the Yacht Club who become like family by the end of your cruise.
One deck up, the Yacht Club Sundeck (with pool, loungers and hot tub) features the Yacht Club Bar and Grill, where you can enjoy breakfasts and lunches outdoors under the sun. Breakfasts offer fresh fruits, yogurts and eggs made to order, and lunches typically have grilled items like vegetables, burgers and chicken as well as a fresh pasta dish and desserts.
On the main Atmosphere Pool deck, you will find a soft-serve ice cream station and a pool grill with burgers, hot dogs and pizza. The pizza on the MSC Meraviglia, by the way, deserves a special shout-out.
We ordered it for in-room dining twice during the week, and our pepperoni and prosciutto and parmesan cheese pies were incredibly tasty, made with a delicious dough.
Hola! Tacos & Cantina is located on the Galleria promenade, and this is a delightful eatery featuring Mexican dishes served in the style of street food. The menu is priced a la carte, with tacos, burritos, nachos, guacamole and enchiladas. We had an amazingly tasty lunch, trying all of the taco styles: carne asada, barbacoa, al pastor, chipotle carnitas, ancho tinga and chili fish tacos.
The restaurant offered an all-you-can-eat special during our sailing for $17.99 a person. This meant anything on the menu and as much as you wanted. The fresh-made salsas are fantastic.
Hola! also has a cantina serving up tequila- or mezcal-infused craft cocktails, as well as a range of Mexican beers.
Ocean Cay specializes in seafood served in an intimate setting. You pay a cover charge for a “Dining Experience” for which you can get an appetizer, main course and a dessert. All items on the menu also are available for a la carte pricing.
Seafood aficionados will love Ocean Cay. Appetizers include Boston lobster, crab claws, oysters, caviar, smoked salmon, king crab, little neck clams, octopus and lump crab cake. For main courses, choose from items like sea bass, tuna, lobster tail and black cod.
Items on the menu are priced a la carte, and that can add up quickly. We recommend the “Dining Experience” package, which gets you a starter, main course and dessert. The menu here offers starters like burrata and beet salad, foie deviled eggs and bone marrow. The steak cuts include filet mignon, N.Y. sirloin and rack of lamb. Roasted corn-fed chicken and wild salmon are also available.
For an added fee, you might like the premium cuts like the dry-aged tomahawk for two, rib-eye, American bison and dry-aged T-bone. Be sure to try the decadent desserts, such as lava cake, cheesecake or peanut butter and milk chocolate cookie.
Butcher’s Cut also offers sea day brunches.
Kaito Teppanyaki and Kaito Sushi Bar offer popular Japanese selections. The teppanyaki room gathers diners around the chef in a fun, fast-paced dinner show. The sushi counter features expertly hand-crafted sushi and sashimi delicacies.
Jean-Philippe Maury Crepes and Gelato brings onboard the sweet creations from the renowned chocolatier and pastry chef of the same name. The Jean-Philippe Maury Chocolate and Café shop sits across the promenade from the crepes and gelato eatery. The chocolate and café shop is a stunning museum of chocolate creations, with all kinds of sweets for purchase.
The creperie and gelato shop offers fruit- and chocolate-topped crepes, as well as a case filled with smooth and creamy gelatos. A menu of sundaes is also available.
The Brass Anchor Pub is a British-style pub, and I spent every night here listening to live music and participating in trivia contests. This is also where you can watch sports on the TVs at the bar. But I was also surprised to see a selection of delicious bar foods available.
I’ll tell you, don’t underestimate how satisfying an Angus burger with bacon, caramelized onion and fries or fish and chips can be when you get that late-night hunger. These are just $5 each. You also might like the special hot dog (cheddar cheese sauce, jalapenos, caramelized onion and fries) for $3.
It’s pretty convenient, too, if you but don’t want to leave the bar because you’re settled in and having a good time.
The ship offers a wonderful variety of cuisines, as you can see. But the meals were made even better by the friendly and attentive service we saw throughout our weeklong cruise. It was nice to see how engaged the crew was and eager to make their guests happy, a real reflection of how excited they were to be back after such a long time on the sidelines during the pandemic.
I hope that this level of service and quality of the meal experience can also be realized over the long term as more and more cruisers return to the MSC Cruises’ ships.