Italian Cruise Lines

Cruise in luxury with Costa.

Savvy travelers know that when it comes to choosing premiere Italian cruise lines, Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises are second to none. The companies have stellar records and consistently score well in customer satisfaction. What's more, they are among a select few cruise lines that insure passengers are treated to the joys of Italian living while traveling to exotic locales.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises specializes in Italian style vacations. The company prides itself on creating an ambiance of Italian elegance and cordiality onboard each of its 11 vessels. If you are looking to immerse yourself in all things Italian, you will not be disappointed with what MSC has to offer.


MSC Cruises was founded in Italy in 1990, though it is fairly new to the North American cruising public. The Italian-based company is an independent cruise line and is not operated by a U.S.-based corporation like some other European cruise lines. Despite its infancy, MSC is known as one of the largest and fastest-growing Italian cruise lines in the world and has received raves by veteran cruisers.


MSC Cruises specializes in Mediterranean cruises, but also offers sailings to the following destinations:

  • Caribbean
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Africa
  • Middle East


MSC Cruises is known for its elegant ships that sport classic upscale interiors of brass, glass, and marble. The company is also highly regarded for serving some of the most authentic Italian cuisine on the high seas. The company maintains that it uses only the best ingredients in its traditional recipes that fill the cruise ship menus.In addition to its refined interiors and classic cuisine, MSC offers a host of other onboard amenities, including:

  • Fully equipped gyms
  • Jogging tracks
  • Hot tubs
  • Swimming pools
  • Shopping galleries
  • Discos
  • Theaters
  • Internet cafes
  • Satellite TV
  • 24-hour room service
  • Onboard childcare services

Factors to Consider

Given its European roots, English is not the first language used onboard MSC vessels unless you are cruising in the Caribbean. All vessels provide menus and daily programs in English, however, communication with waiters, room stewards, and tour guides is done in Italian. This may be a little inconvenient for some cruisers, but if you embrace change and understand that things like trivia games won't be run like those on American-based vessels, you should be fine.

Costa Cruise Lines

Costa Cruises has a stellar reputation in the cruise industry. It is Italy and Europe's number one cruise line and has been in business for more than 60 years.


Genoa-based Costa Crociere was the original owner of Costa Cruise Lines, but after more than 50 years in the passenger business it sold its fleet to Carnival Corporation. In 2000, Carnival completed a buyout of the Costa line and began expanding the fleet with larger and more dynamic ships. Costa is still Italian-based, but its fleet of 12 vessels now sails around the world offering the best in Italian style, hospitality, and cuisine.


Costa Cruise Lines sails to 250 destinations, including:

  • The Mediterranean
  • Northern Europe
  • Baltic Sea
  • Eastern and Western Caribbean
  • South America
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Asia
  • Indian Ocean


Costa Cruises prides itself on offering the best of Italy to its passengers from homemade pastas to Italian greetings and cultural workshops. Onboard cultural activities include on-deck bocce ball game, tarantella dancing under the stars, and Italian cooking lessons. In addition, Costa vessels offer up to 50 types of pasta and a variety of other fresh Italian dishes.


Costa's fleet also comes equipped with:

  • Bars and restaurants
  • Swimming pools
  • Casinos
  • Discos
  • Ballrooms
  • Gyms
  • Stores
  • Saunas
  • Children's play centers

Factors to Consider

Do not expect to easily find American-style food on Costa Cruises. Breakfast features dishes preferred by Europeans such beans and kippered herring, along with the soft-boiled eggs while lunch and dinner is almost exclusively Italian oriented.Likewise, most of Costa's ships cater to European smoking habits. While the Italian Cruise Line has recently eliminated smoking in dining rooms and show lounges, smokers are still permitted to light up in designated areas in other public rooms, as well as on the pool deck.

Choosing Between Italian Cruise Lines

While both Italian cruise lines offer outstanding amenities, travelers who prefer cruising on classic Princess-type vessels will feel more at home onboard MSC Cruises. Conversely, passengers who enjoy modern Carnival-type ships will likely be more comfortable taking a Costa cruise. Regardless of which line you choose, you will be guaranteed a trip rich in Italian heritage.

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