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The (Almost) Maiden Voyage of the World Europa

by Clayton Lott
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MSC World Ship

This article is The (Almost) Maiden Voyage of the World Europa. It is a guest review of MSC’s Flagship World Europa Cruise Ship.

Guest Writer Clayton Lott

Clayton Lott is a writer, memoirist, and travel buff galavanting around the world collecting new and beautiful experiences. He lives in the suburbs of Denver, CO with his pup Walter, and is currently making up excuses for not learning to ski.

Cruising in Europe is very different from cruising in the US. While the differences take a bit of getting used to, what the MSC World Europa lacks is made up for in the wonderful itinerary and excursions. Let’s go through the major categories of the cruising experience and see how one of MSC’s newest ships stacks up!

a large cruise ship with people on the deck
Our first look at the brand new MSC World Europa

MSC Cruises

MSC has a lot of offerings in the Caribbean and around the world. Soon they will launch a sister ship to MSC World Europa for the US market called MSC World America.

John sailed on several of MSC ships in the Caribbean. Check out his reviews of Meraviglia, Seashore and Seascape.

Facilities Aboard the World Europa

Launching and advertising a brand new ship creates a massive sense of anticipation and expectation. So when MSC launched not just a new ship, but the flagship of its brand new World Class category of vessels, my excitement was out of this world. Simply put, the World Europa does not disappoint.

Upon entering the World Galleria – the main atrium aboard the World Europa – we are greeted by a large “living” LED ceiling, displaying videos themed to the port-of-call where the ship is currently docked.

The 3-level gathering place is filled with the sounds of live music, eager guests, and bartenders slinging creative cocktails. Specialty dining restaurants line each side of the Galleria, with a prominent Guest Services area. Entertainment venues are located at the forward and aft, along with 3 large dining rooms. Photographers are strategically and gratuitously placed virtually everywhere, ready to capture your experience. And if you’re traveling with your mom, you’ll get to have a fantastically awkward conversation explaining that to every all of them.

While technologically advanced and aesthetically stunning, very few employees seemed to know how any of it worked. Staff could not explain where specific venues were located, or how to assist guests in navigating any of it. Heck, even the muster drill was a failure, with our facilitator completely giving up on directing us to our muster station (concerning, at the least!). Signage to elevators, staterooms, and even the primary entertainment venues, are concerning at best. Much of our first two days aboard were spent trying to find a single employee who could show us, well, anywhere.

Aquatic Fun

One of two rooftop pools on the World Europa

Now, I love water. There’s a reason I love cruising; So I definitely scoped out the much-advertised, bounteous hot tubs and pools on board. Unfortunately, virtually every one of the almost 7,000 passengers on the ship had the same idea. Capacity and time limits went unenforced, and at one point I counted over 50 people in the 20-person capacity hot tub. As an American, I’m used to a certain amount of personal space, so I expect to adjust. However, there’s just something about rubbing up against complete strangers in a lukewarm tub that, well, rubbed me the wrong way. But, if you’re an experienced cruiser, you know this tends to happen, so, hey, you’ve been warned.

Power Outlets

Power Outlets can be limited on cruise ships, so I always bring a cruise line approved power strip so that I can get power near the beds or where I need it in the staterooms. This is my current favorite option on Amazon. I like it because it has a long cord and several US outlets plus multiple USB-A and USB-C ports. Thanks for considering the use of the link to support John the Wanderer.


If you’re like me, the stateroom is merely a place for sleep and coffee before setting out on another excursion. However, I found myself spending quite a bit of time in our stateroom this time around. The room is beautiful, clean, and well-appointed, with a very comfortable sofa bed that was an actual twin bed. This is a great surprise when expecting a typical pullout mattress lined with metal bars. Our balcony offered an incredible view of each of our ports-of-call, and a great position to watch guests on other ships admire the brand-new ship. Unlike American lines, the room service menu is extremely limited and not included in the price of the trip. However, with beautiful artisanal coffee offerings available at the Coffee Emporium, this was hardly a bad thing.

Unfortunately, our mid-ship room on Deck 16 was located directly beneath the Yacht Club service corridor. This meant we were awakened multiple times each night by service carts rumbling directly above our heads.

And finally, a note on the bathroom – Easily the most spacious shower I’ve had at-sea, and perfectly designed to accommodate the cruise life. Brackets and hooks everywhere, and great soap, perfect for winding down after a day galavanting around Europe.

Hospitality and Service

If I have to choose two words to summarize the quality of service and hospitality aboard the world Europa, they would be “virtually nonexistent.”

MSC is widely known for their lack of service in the cruise industry, and it seems we got to experience the worst of it. The vast majority of staff I interacted with throughout the journey seemed to have little idea how things worked on the ship, including the locations of basic locations (i.e. dining rooms and elevators), and couldn’t explain any processes.

I did not have a single interaction with a staff member that didn’t end with me asking a variation of “Would you be able to find someone who knows?”. If the staff had any desire to actually assist me, they kept it close to the vest. Have you been to Disney World? If so, think back on the service you received from Cast Members there, and then imagine the opposite. That was our experience aboard the World Europa. Even our muster drill was ill-fated. Our emergency crew had no idea where our muster station was located, and eventually just left without any warning to those of us meandering about the ship hoping to find out where we’d go if the thing sank.

The Laundry Debacle

One experience perfectly summarizes the hospitality experience aboard the World Europa. Before the trip I purchased laundry service, as I planned to explore a bit more of Europe after disembarking the ship. Upon receiving my clean laundry the next day, I was disappointed to discover about half my items were missing.

I then spent the next SEVEN HOURS attempting to find my missing clothes. This included a 15 minute interrogation by the assistant to the “Laundry Master” ending in a direct accusation I was lying about the missing items and was attempting to commit fraud against the ship’s staff. Finally, around midnight, after providing a detailed description of each and every item three times to various staff members, I was offered a $100 ship credit to compensate me for about $200 of missing clothes. At that point I just gave up and accepted it. They ran me down, and they knew it.

The staff aboard the ship was rude, offensive, and yes, even accusatory at times, traits that would never be acceptable on any other cruise line. To say I was shocked at how we were treated is an understatement.

One final note: If you show up even 10 minutes late for your main dining room sitting, welp, you’re out of luck. Our excursion arrived back to the ship late, and apparently that was our fault. So, we went off to try the Mexican restaurant…

Summary: On the MSC World Europa, the customer isn’t always right; they are to be questioned extensively and likely lying.


For Americans, elegant and diverse dining is one of the most anticipated parts of a cruise. I mean, where else can you splurge on an exotic item, like sea urchin, without fear of being charged $50 for something you don’t care for?

The 3 buffets onboard offered standard European fair, with many variations on Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. I absolutely loved trying dozens of items I’d never even heard of, let alone tried. Breakfast was a favorite, with well over 10 separate stations offering a specific country’s standard breakfast (a mozzarella bar, an English breakfast station complete with beans and sausages, and, of course, a lighter, veggie-filled Mediterranean spread). Unfortunately, these 3 buffets could not accommodate even a fraction of the guests. Often only 1 of them was open on any given morning, and every entrance was guarded by an employee with a guest counter/clicker in his hands. This caused a great deal of stress for those of us with strict excursion start times. But, as with any trip, all we needed was a bit of time to adjust.

Dining Rooms

The main dining rooms offer decent food, but nothing to write home about. As with virtually all facilities aboard the World Europa, it was severely understaffed, and the servers were incredibly stressed. One evening, after watching tables around us eat a full 4-course meal while we waited for an initial greeting and water, we left in order to get to our entertainment reservation. We often waited at least 45 minutes for our appetizers, and parts of our orders went MIA almost every night.

Now, I’m an extrovert, and I LOVE striking up conversations with strangers while traveling. It’s one of my favorite ways to get to know a culture, and I’ve made dozens of new friends around the world. This is decidedly NOT appreciated by staff and guests aboard the World Europa. My initial greetings were often met with stares and confusion, wondering why a random American was attempting to talk with them. Of course, language barriers abound, but I expected a warmer welcome from a cruise line based in one of the most outgoing and congenial countries on the planet. In fact, my family is from Sicily, and that’s where we get our outgoing personalities!

As for specialty dining offerings, well, they really tried. Sometimes you have an experience that just makes you sit back and mutter “huh…”.

Quirky Offerings

Our first stop was Hola! Tacos and Cantina. Located on Deck 7, this Mexican-inspired restaurant offers what you might expect – tacos, margaritas, and various small plates. Unfortunately, the food itself tasted… off… as if the chef had a layover in a Mexican airport, did not eat, but did their best to recreate what they saw. The tacos were about the size of a silver dollar, and while extremely spicy, had no definable taste beyond “ouch!” The guacamole was primarily lime juice, and I’m still not sure what ingredients were used to make my margarita. The experience was so absurd we couldn’t keep ourselves from laughing. After spending about €75, we left hungry and in search of something else. Which leads me to the next hilarious story – the nacho bar at the symbol of American overindulgence, Pizza and Burger.


Just below Hola! on Deck 6, this grab-and-go American spot offers stereotypical fast food, including, well, pizza, burgers. At the entrance is a nacho bar, which, with our unmet longing for Mexican food, sounded incredible. Here are the items available at the nacho bar: tortilla chips, red chili flakes, parmesan, oregano, and garlic oil. Now look, I’m no chef, but I feel like nachos are pretty hard to mess up. I stand corrected.

Overall, the food was fine, but certainly nothing to write home about.


The entertaining venues aboard the World Europa are beautiful and spacious, providing a Broadway-style setting for the evening. The online reservation system is pretty slick, allowing each guest to reserve a seat for a given show just once. Of course, with almost 7,000 guests aboard, it simply isn’t possible to see all of them. Which is great, because the shows themselves are almost laughably bad.

Our first show was at the Luna Park venue. Billed as an interactive spy thriller show, we thought it would be a fun way to kick off our first night. At show-time the cast came out with pool noodles and started up sword fights with the kids in attendance. After about 20 minutes of this, we left. That was it. So… that happened.

A Lonely Nostalgia Review

The second show featured a solo nostalgia rock act from England, and it was bad. Real bad. His voice was fine, but he was the only thing on the stage, and the crowd couldn’t have cared less. I felt SO bad for the poor guy!

a person on stage with a rocket on the stage

The last show we attempted was a unique interpretation of Amelia Earheart’s final flight in the World Theater. Of course, source material for that final flight is severely lacking, but they went for it. Unlike the previous shows, the program was energetic and entertaining. The cast were skilled dancers and vocalists, and we had a great time.

Overall, it was pretty clear MSC is at the bottom of cruise line entertainment recruiting pipeline. I was surprised at the lack of comedy performers, an absolute must on American lines. But hey, the stops along the way were the primary point of the trip, so the fact MSC offered any entertainment at all was icing on the cake.

a stage with lights and people watching

Shore Excursions

Shore Excursions booked via the Cruise Lines can be expensive. I generally book via Shore Excursion Group. They have a guarantee similar to the cruise line to get you back in time. In addition, they often have smaller group tours which make the experience better.

Otherwise you may consider booking via Viator.

For many ports, there are great beach clubs that you can get day passes from. For those I recommend going through Resort For A Day!

Thanks for considering using the links to support John the Wanderer.

Overall Impression

They sure did try, but I’m afraid it pales in comparison to even the humblest of ships heading to Ensenada for a night

Overall Review: While the ship itself is immaculate, the staff’s treatment of World Europa guests has me hesitant to consider another MSC voyage. Of course, the ship took us all around the Mediterranean, so, the experience could only be so poor, because, well, that is one of the most beautiful areas of the world I’ve ever had the privilege to experience!

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