On my last cruise, I visited a bar that wasn’t listed on any of the deck plans. In this article, I’ll share how I was invited, what it was like inside the lounge, and how to locate it.
The bar was onboard MSC World Europa and before I even set foot onboard, I had heard about the secret bar.
I had no idea how to get an invite, what it would be like, or if I would even have the chance to go. I was interested, but I knew invites were hard to come by.
I Spotted The Phone Box – But Didn’t Think About It At First!
When I boarded the MSC World Europa in Barcelona, it didn’t take long for me to notice the red telephone box in the central street.
At first, I thought it was just a photo spot, as many people stopped to take pictures there.
However, I later learned that this was the entrance to the secret bar. Shh, don’t tell anybody!
The MSC World Europa is one of the largest cruise ships in the world. I was on board for seven days but still found it challenging to visit every single venue.
It would be very easy to take a cruise on this ship and remain unaware of the secret bar’s existence.
A Surprise in My Cabin
When I came back to my cabin one evening I found little square pieces of paper which had a telephone box on them.
These aren’t the tokens that I’ve seen other people use before, so perhaps MSC ran out on my cruise!
These were checked and taken when we went to the bar, they checked out cabin number too to make sure that we were meant to be invited.
I’ve got to be honest and at this point, I didn’t look at them and it wasn’t until a few days later that I turned them over and realised that there was a QR code on the back!
I don’t know why the invites arrived in my cabin, or how they are assigned but I would find out later.
I Scanned The QR Code
Scanning the QR code brought up some instructions on MSC’s app.
You don’t need to buy WiFi to use the cruise line’s app but you do have to be connected to it to get the information to come up, that’s how MSC can get the information to your phone.
To learn more about how cruise lines app’s work and why you don’t need to pay for internet to use them, check out this post: You Don’t Need to Pay For Wi-Fi To Use a Cruise Line App – Here’s Why
The instructions explained that I had to phone to make an appointment, which I did. I’ve blacked out a few details for obvious reasons!
It Was Time to Visit The Bar
We headed to the phone box for our timeslot and I phone the number on the phone as instructed. The man on the other end said that he would be there for us in a second and that we should wait.
This part was quite awkward because there was a queue of people outside the box waiting to come in and take photos. They thought that we were just hanging around/taking our time!
They eventually asked us what we were doing and we said that we were waiting for the phonebox to open, which must have confused them quite a bit.
They spoke Italian and I don’t so most of the conversation was through gestures.
We Passed Through The Magic Door!
After a few minutes, the back of the phone box opened and we were taken into a corridor.
I’ve been in the crew areas of cruise ships before on behind-the-scenes tours and this was just like that, I expected the bar to be right behind the phonebox but it was down a couple of staircases and across a few corridors. This did make it feel very exclusive!
We came to a door that said ‘Speakeasy bar’ and we were shown in by one of the crew members working in there.
What Was The Bar Like?
The bar was small, dark and cleverly designed.
It seats only 70 people and given that the MSC World Europa can hold over 6000, that is a tiny percentage.
The bar is speakeasy-themed with lots of interesting things around the room. I personally think that they did a great job with the styling. My camera did a great job lightening up these photos but it really was quite dark.
There was a lamp on each table so that you could read the menu.
What Happens in The Bar?
We had a musician and a singer perform for us during our time in the bar. When we were there there were only 8 other guests in the room so it was ALMOST like having our own private show.
We were given a few nuts to eat and relaxed, the vibe was very laid back as I suppose you would expect from a speakeasy!
Drinks Packages Don’t Work in The Secret Bar
I was disappointed to find out that drinks packages don’t work in the speakeasy but I’m happy to say that this is mentioned on the invite so I did know before I decided to go to the bar.
On this cruise, I had the premium plus drinks package (the most expensive package available) which I very rarely have so it did feel weird to spend my time in the only bar onboard where I had to pay for a drink. Still, I decided I’d have one for this review.
The drinks were expensive as you would expect from a venue like this and for the two of us to have a drink it cost €37.
I’m not a big drinker but there were no options included in my drinks package and only cocktails on the menu.
I did notice that there were a couple of other people in the bar who didn’t have a drink and handed the menu back to the crew. There was no pressure to buy a drink, but really you do want one when in a bar!
The Crew Were Fantastic and So Much Fun
The crew who were working in the secret bar did a great job in keeping the mood exciting. Even when they weren’t actively serving a guest they would be dancing a little.
The feeling was happy and I’m glad that we did go.
When it was time to leave we had to be escorted out of the bar back to the regular passenger areas of the ship.
How Do You Get an Invite?
I’ve been told by the crew that the invites are randomly assigned and that there is no way that you can ask for them.
Being kind and polite to the crew is probably your best bet but there are no guarantees!
Even if the bar is full every hour of the evening they’d still only be able to get a few hundred through per night, assuming everybody left after an hour.
The ship holds a LOT of guests so there is no guarantee that anybody will be able to go.
Before You Go
The design of MSC World Europa reminded me in lots of ways of Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. To find out all my trip on that amazing ship, read this article next:
Is it best to book your next cruise directly with the cruise line, or use a Travel Agent? Find out here: