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Do MSC Cruises Include Meals? (Firsthand Experience) – Your Guide To What is Included

If you are considering a cruise with MSC you may be wondering if food is included. I have been on four cruises with MSC and I love the value for money that you get on MSC Cruises.

Do MSC Cruises Include Meals?

MSC Cruises include the cost of breakfast lunch and dinner in the cruise fare. These included meals are provided in the main dining room, or buffet of the ship. There are extra cost alternatives such as speciality dining or room service but these are optional extras.

It is possible to cruise with MSC and not spend a penny extra on food. When I cruise with MSC, this is usually what I will do.

During this post, we explore the options that are complimentary and those that cost extra so you can decide if you’d like to spend extra money on food during your cruise.

(At the end of the post I include a tip that could get you a free meal in a speciality restaurant!)

MSC Meraviglia Toulon Mediterranean Cruise
Me with the MSC Meraviglia in Toulon

The Buffet on MSC Cruises in Included in The Cruise Fare


The buffets on MSC ships are usually open from early in the morning until late at night. The food is usually varied and includes lots of Mediterranean cuisines.

We are confident that you will find something to suit your tastes and mood at The Buffet. After all, there are 13 different areas to discover – from the Kids’ Corner to the Pasta Station – allowing you to find exactly what you fancy.  Open for 20 hours a day, The Buffet is a great casual option for everyone, from families to couples who don’t want to tie themselves down to mealtimes. – MSC Source.

What I love about MSC buffets is that they very rarely close.

During the times between breakfast/lunch and lunch/dinner, they will change over the food on offer but the food doesn’t really ever stop.

The buffet is a great option if you want to grab a quick meal or have a snack between meals.

I cruised as a child and LOVED going to the buffet when my parents went to the main dining room. The amount of choice and flexibility is one of my favourite things about cruising.

MSC Cruises Do They Include Food? Buffet Sections

Most MSC buffets are made up of the following sections: 

  • Meat Carvery
  • Kids Area
  • Take Away Station
  • Dessert Corner
  • Pasta Station
  • Daily Specials
  • Wellness Corner
  • Ethnic Corner
  • Special Diets & Menus
  • Mediterranean Dining
  • International Dining

Msc meraviglia buffet pastries

What Drinks Are Available In The Buffet on MSC Cruises?

Water, tea and coffee are available at no extra cost when the buffet on MSC ships is open. Juices are often available for breakfast and on most ships, there is a bar where guests can order drinks at an extra cost.

I took a Costa cruise recently where the tea/coffee was only available between 4-5 pm!

If you have cruised with Costa and are wondering about the differences between Costa and MSC check out my post about the differences between the two: MSC and Costa Cruises: 7 Differences.

Many ships have bars within the buffet where you can order a drink. If not, you are still able to order a drink from the bar by ordering with one of the waiters. A lot of the newer ships have buttons that you press to order a drink.

Buffet hint: If you’re in the buffet for breakfast make sure you find the bread rolls below with little bits of sugar on them. They’re so good! 

MSC Breakfast Buffet Bread

The Main Dining Room on MSC Cruises in Included in The Cruise Fare

The main dining room is open for breakfast, sometimes for lunch and always for dinner. All meals here are all included in your cruise fare.

MSC Cruises offer both fixed and flexible dining although fixed dining is more common.

You are free to choose if you want to eat dinner in the main dining room or not, if you don’t want to eat there you just don’t show up. You don’t have to let anybody know.

Note: There are occasionally extra cost items on the menu but these will be clearly marked.

msc meraviglia main dining room
MSC Meraviglia Dining Room, Christmas Time!

MSC Offer Mainly Fixed Dining

There is one early and one late seating per evening, it is possible to request either early, or late dining prior to your cruise. It is not guaranteed that you will get the seating you request although I have never known anybody who didn’t get the seating that they wanted.

If you get on board and find out that you have a dining time that doesn’t suit you, you are often able to change this onboard.

If you are cruising with MSC Cruises and have fixed dining your table number will be printed on your cruise card. When heading to the restaurant for dinner you will be shown to the table and this is your table for dinner each night.

MSC Do Have Some Flexible Dining

If you have ‘my choice’ flexible dining, available with higher cabin categories, you are able to arrive at the restaurant anytime during dinner hours. You will then be seated as if you were in a restaurant on land, easy peasy!

msc meraviglia food main dining room christmas dinner

Dress codes to apply to this restaurant and all others on board. To learn more about MSC’s dress codes, and to find out why I think it’s one of the best, check out this post:

Is There Any More Complimentary Food On MSC Cruises?

On most MSC ships there is some type of outside pool grill that serves food by the pool. These are always complimentary and will usually serve things like burgers/hot dogs.

This may be the same food from the buffet but it is often different. This area of the ship may only be open at certain times and may be dependent on the weather.

A lot of MSC ships also have a pizzeria outside where you can grab a slice of pizza. MSC has a LOT of pizza onboard their ships so if you’re a pizza fan you’ll be very happy!

The last MSC cruise that I took was in January and it was far too cold to spend very long outside. The cruise was on the MSC Meraviglia and although it was freezing it didn’t stop us from having a go on the watersides!

For a full food review of the food I had on my MSC cruise, click here. 

There Are Also Tapas Snacks/Nuts Available

In a number of the bars, you’ll find nuts and nibbles to munch on. On the MSC Meraviglia, the sky lounge also offers tapas-style snacks (and a few crisps) which don’t cost extra.

If you are in a bar and feeling peckish, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter if they have any free bar snacks.

MSC Meraviglia Food Sky Lounge Tapas

Do MSC Have Room Service?

MSC Cruises do have room service available but there is a charge per item. Most items are pretty reasonably priced at a few euros each but I personally don’t like paying for room service.

The walk to the buffet does me good!

Speciality Dining On MSC Cruises

There are a number of different pay extra for options on MSC Cruises. On some of the older ships, there may only be one or two speciality restaurants but the newer ships do have more.

In speciality restaurants, you are charged similarly to how you would be on land. Items on the menu will usually have a price by them and the balance is charged to your onboard account which is paid at the end of the cruise.

Not all of the below restaurants are available on all ships. There are more options available but these are the ones that I personally know about. No point in me making up stuff eh? For the full list, check out MSC’s website here.

I LOVED Indochine on the MSC Virutosa

I recently took a cruise on the MSC Virtuosa and tried a Vietnamese restaurant called Indochine. The portions were absolutely huge and I didn’t manage to finish the meal. I actually left without having dessert!

msc virtuosa indochine indonesian restaurant

To learn more about Indochine and my cruise on the MSC Virtuosa, check out my MSC Virtuosa review and daily diary here: MSC Virtuosa – Cruise Review 2021 (Covid Safety, Ship and Food)

I’ve Eaten in Butchers Cut

Butchers Cut is my favourite MSC speciality restaurant. This may be because it’s the only one that I’ve been to, but it’s so good I’ve been three times!

Butchers cut is a steakhouse that has the most AMAZING giant melted cookies for dessert. It is amazing. They have a set menu for a certain price or you are able to pay as you eat as you would in a restaurant on land.

MSC Butchers Cut Steak


Eataly is an Italian restaurant which you will actually find in Italy. I have been to Eataly but only on land, I actually had a meal in Eataly in Genoa. It was okay, I would describe Eataly as the Nando’s of Italy, I hope you’ll understand if you’re from the UK! (I do love Nandos).

Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant and Sushi Bar

Due to my hatred of Sushi, I’ve never tried out this one. However, I think this restaurant is about more than just-food.

If you have dinner here you’ll be treated to a food show, your food will be thrown up and sliced in mid-air. It’s very fun to watch and quite a performance.

I personally prefer to watch it from outside the restaurant as they have big glass windows, but I imagine it’s a great experience if you like Sushi!

They Even Have a Pub With Extra Cost Food

On the MSC Meraviglia, we visited the onboard pub and decided to pay extra for fish and chips. It was only a few euros and it was really good. I’ve definitely recommended this.

You’ll often find normal bars on MSC cruises have pay for extra food items. This is also the case in the sports bar.

MSC Cruises Pub Food Fish and Chips

Be Prepared For Upselling

When you are on your MSC cruise there will be points when staff members will try and sell you speciality dining and drinks packages.

I’ve found that this has got worse lately so it is important to be firm.

There is nothing wrong with not spending extra money on a cruise, you’ve already paid for food! When the waiters/crew ask you if you’d like to upgrade your drinks package or buy a speciality meal be polite but clear.

How to Get a Speciality Meal on an MSC Cruise For Free:

You may be entitled to a free meal in a speciality restaurant, and more perks, if you have a loyalty status with another cruise line.

MSC Status Match is a program that allows you to ‘match’ a loyalty status that you have gained on another cruise line (and some hotel brands) with MSC. When you cruise with MSC you will be given the perks that the equivalent loyalty programme on MSC would provide.

MSC Status Match Black Card in Theatre

A black loyalty card allows you to have a meal for free in a speciality restaurant. The card entitles you to a meal for two although I believe you can only use it once per cabin.

I have the black status and took Jono (who doesn’t have any status with MSC), both of our meals were free. When eating in a speciality restaurant you may have to eat from a special menu as we did in butchers cut (tasting menu). The value of the meal was €39!

To learn how to match your status, and why you should, check out this post I wrote about how I did just that. MSC Status Match – The free way to get 5% off MSC Cruises.

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You Can Drink Tap Water on a Cruise – (Here’s Where and How) – Emma Cruises

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

[…] The exception to this rule is Costa Cruises where tap water isn’t free in the main dining room. On SOME MSC cruises, tap water may also not be free. More about that here: Do MSC Cruises Include Meals? Your Guide To Whats Included […]

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