Cruises,  Europe

Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Review MSC Magnifica (2024)

Are you looking for an MSC Magnifica review on the Eastern Mediterranean cruise? Then you are in the right spot.

The MSC Magnifica, a luxurious vessel, launched in 2009 and belonging to the Musica-class of cruise ships took us on a fabulous adventure across the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Before you book your cruise, you naturally want to know if it is a good fit for you. Reading through hundreds of different guest reviews can be tiring.

To make the decision a bit easier for you, I have created the ultimate review of our Eastern Mediterranean Cruise on the MSC Magnifica.

Find everything you need to know before you book your adventure in this article.

Let’s get to it!

picture of the MSC Magnifica floating in front of the port at the Eastern meditereranean cruise ship

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About the MSC Magnifica

Before I begin my detailed MSC Magnifica review, I would like to give you a bit of an overview of the ship and its amenities.

The MSC Magnifica is operated by MSC Cruises. They are based in Geneva, Switzerland. Here are some details about the MSC Magnifica:

  1. Ship Specifications: The MSC Magnifica is a pretty small cruise ship with a length of approximately 293 meters (963 feet). It has a maximum capacity of 2,550 passengers and a crew of over 1,000 members. In comparison to other cruise ships in 2023, that is not huge.
  2. Inauguration: The MSC Magnifica was built in Saint-Nazaire, France. It was launched in 2009 and started sailing in March 2010. The ship has since undergone refurbishments, the last one in 2021 where 215 staterooms and a restaurant were added.
  3. Accommodations: The MSC Magnifica has a variety of stateroom options for every taste and budget. These include interior cabins, ocean-view cabins, balcony cabins, and suites. On this cruise, I stayed in the interior cabin.
  4. Destinations: The MSC Magnifica sails to various destinations around the world, including Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and South America. It offers a wide range of different itineraries.
  5. Environmental Features: MSC Cruises has also implemented environmentally friendly features on the MSC Magnifica to reduce its ecological impact. These include advanced waste management systems, energy-efficient technologies, and the use of low-emission engines to minimize pollution.

Amenities MSC Magnifica

The small but luxurious ship offers a wide range of amenities for the passengers.

Here are some of the amenities you can find on the MSC Magnifica:

  • 5 restaurants (open 20 hours a day)
  • 11 themed bars and lounges
  • Atlantic City Casino
  • Theater with live performances
  • Discotheque and nightclub
  • Spa
  • Indoor and Outdoor pools
  • 4D Cinema
  • Children’s Entertainment (did not check that out tbh)
  • Gym & Sports facilities, such as jogging track and mini-golf

Personal Review MSC Magnifica

My cruise on the MSC Magnifica was my first cruise, and it was superb. I could have not wished for a better cruise ship for my first experience on the water.

The staff was super friendly, kind, and helpful at all times. We were seated together for the formal dinners with people who also spoke German. That was so thoughtful.

The ship is a bit smaller than other cruise ships nowadays (in 2023), but it is also a lot more quiet and calm. There are not as many passengers on the ship and you have a little more space, which I appreciate.

The pool area was amazing and we could use it toward the end of our cruise (it was in April, so it was a little cold in the beginning). We made use of the indoor pool area on rainy days.

The inside cabin was small, but modern and comfortable. Sadly, we did not have a window. For my next cruise, I shall book an outside cabin instead. One thing though: you sleep even better in the darkness of the inside cabins.

On some days, we made use of the free breakfast delivery service to the cabin. That was so incredibly useful on days with early excursions.

I would prefer it if cruise lines offered more adult-only cruises. But that is sadly not yet a big thing for commercial cruise liners (also not happening on Holland America or Royal Caribbean).

Overall, I would rate the MSC Magnifica and its staff with 5 out of 5 stars.

MSC Magnifica Pros and Cons


  • Smaller ship, more quiet
  • Friendly and attentive staff
  • Amazing service
  • Outdoor and indoor pools (for bad weather)
  • Amazing choice of restaurants and great food
  • Plenty of entertainment options
  • Nice sundecks
  • Shopping opportunities on the ship


  • Shore excursions are expensive
  • Spa treatments were also pretty expensive
  • No MSC Yacht Club is available
  • Loud children (not too bad on this cruise, it was off-season)

Eastern Mediterranean Route on the MSC Magnifica

Day 1: Venice

Day 2: Bari

Day 3: Katakolon

Day 4: Athens

Day 5: Mykonos

Day 6: Sea Day

Day 7: Dubrovnik

Day 8: Venice

the author in athens in front of important building in a white dress

Day 1: Venice

About the Venice Cruise Port

The Venice Cruise Port is situated in the Venetian Lagoon, and it serves as a hub for numerous cruise lines. accommodating a significant number of passengers every year.

The Terminal Venezia Passeggeri or Venice Cruise Terminal consists of two different areas: the Marittima Basin and the San Basilio Pier. Larger cruise ships, like the MSC Magnifica dock at the Marittima Basin.

Recently, medium and large cruise ships are no longer permitted in Venice’s historic center.

Many ships will be starting at industrial piers in Marghera, on the Italian mainland. Please research carefully where your cruise is starting. I suggest booking Fly+Cruise packages that include transportation from the airport.

Venice used to be a lovely cruise stop, the ship moved through the canals of the city center. That offered amazing views from the cruise deck. Sadly, this is no longer a thing in 2023.

Embarkation Process & First Evening in Venice

After a short and well-organized embarkation process and a mandatory safety drill, it was finally time to explore the ship a bit and check out our cabin.

The embarkation process was super smooth. Our baggage already awaited us at our cabin. We had to worry about nothing. Pro tip: arrive early, the Buffett is already open!

The safety drill does not take long at all. It is only a short introduction to the safety procedures of the MSC Magnifica.

We had a modern and comfy inside cabin. I was not bothered by the lack of windows in our cabin. The complete darkness made me fall into a super deep and relaxing sleep every night.

Our first stop on the ship was checking out the buffet with endless amounts of delicious food served almost 24/7. We grabbed some cocktails and went to the upper deck while our vessel sailed out of the beautiful canals of Venice. We had an amazing view of the city while we enjoyed our first meal.

In the evening we found ourselves in one of the more formal restaurants for a three-course dinner. We were seated at a bigger table with other German speakers. That was very kind and thoughtful of the cruise line.

So, we quickly made new acquaintances and shared stories about former trips. The food during dinner settings is definitely next level.

There is quite a choice for every course, and you are not limited to only choosing one. Needless to say, we gained quite some weight on our first cruise.

Eastern mediterranean cruise first stop Venice canals

Day 2: Bari

About the Bari Cruise Port

The Bari Cruise Port is a major cruise ship port and ferry hub for routes to Greece, Turkey, and Croatia. It is known as a gateway to the large cities on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

The Terminal Crociere di Bari is located a bit outside the city of Bari. It takes about 20 minutes of walking to reach the beautiful old town of Bari.

You can also grab one of the shuttle buses towards the city center from the cruise port.

Things to Do in Bari

Bari is a beautiful city in the Italian region of Puglia. There are many great excursions you can book, or simply spend some time in the city itself.

Here are some cool things to do in Bari from the cruise ship:

  • Visit the Old Town (Bari Vecchia): Take a stroll through the narrow, picturesque streets of Bari Vecchia, the historic center of the city. You’ll see some wonderful, whitewashed buildings and pretty squares. Don’t miss the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, a stunning Romanesque church.
  • Explore Castello Svevo: Castello Svevo is a medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of Bari and the ocean behind it. You can check out the ancient walls, towers, and courtyards. The view is amazing, so don’t skip out on this spot.
  • Discover the Bari Cathedral: The Cathedral of San Sabino, is another impressive religious site in the city you need to see on your shore day. This Romanesque cathedral dates back to the 12th century. It has some beautiful architectural details. The inside is beautiful as well, and you can see some impressive frescoes.
  • Indulge in local cuisine: Bari is known for its delicious food, so take the opportunity to eat some authentic Italian cuisine. Head to the Mercato Coperto, the city’s indoor market for fresh seafood and cheeses. Don’t forget to try the famous “orecchiette,” a traditional pasta shape that is a specialty of Bari.
  • Relax at Pane e Pomodoro Beach: If you’re looking for some beach time, Pane e Pomodoro is the closest beach to the city center. There are also beachside cafes and bars where you can relax and soak up the sun.

My Take on Bari

After the ship was anchored we were allowed to disembark and explore the city by ourselves. Sadly the weather was not great so we decided to make this a small shopping trip.

The city of Bari was very lovely, it combined seaside charm with archaeological and historical richness.

The cruise company itself offered day trips to Matera, Alberobella, the Caves of Castellana, and Polignano al Mare. Since we are not big fans of guided tours we opted out of booking official excursions.

In hindsight, I have to add that even though following a guided excursion might seem very touristic, it can be pretty practical. Spontaneously organizing transportation to further away places does not always work out nicely. Plus you always have to keep in mind to be back in time before the ship leaves.

beautiful bari in front of blue water and white washed houses on cliffs perched

Day 3: Katakolon

The Katakolon Cruise Port

The Katakolon cruise port is located 34 kilometers away from Ancient Olympia. The port is one of the busiest in all of Greece, and many major cruise lines stop there every day.

The cruise port is small, but it has plenty of nice amenities. You can find some shops and cafes there, as well as taxi stands and rental car companies.

Things to Do in Katakolon

After another night of blissful sleep under the deck, we woke up on the shores of the Peloponnesian Sea about to dock in the famous town of Katakolon.

A short cab ride away we discovered the beautiful ruins of the UNESCO world heritage of Olympia. Most people go to Olympia on their shore day in Katakolon.

Olympia is one of the most important archaeological sites in the history of Greece. You can see the Hippodrome, the Temple of Zeus, the gymnasium, and the great stadium.

The town of Katakolon itself is also super cute. The picturesque small town has an interesting museum and a beautiful lighthouse.

Shore excursions are available to the nearby beaches, to Chlemoutsi castle, and to some monasteries nearby.

Back on shore, we spent some time ocean-side. We still had some time to check out the small shops and stores next to the cruise port and eat some ice cream there.

old ruins of olympia

Day 4: Piräus (Athens)

The Piräus Cruise Port

The port of Piräus is just outside the city of Athens and only 10 km away. The port is pretty big, there are about 12 different departure and arrival gates.

There are three designated cruise port terminals, which allow for about 11 ships to dock at the same time.

Within the port, there is a free shuttle service that connects the gates with each other. The bus runs every 20 minutes.

There is public transport available to reach Athens. I suggest picking up a cab at the port. It takes about 30 minutes and roughly 25 Euros to go to Athens with a cab.

You can find like-minded people on the ship to split the fare with.

Things to Do in Athens

Athens ended up being one of my favorite ports in the entire itinerary. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Athens from the cruise ship:

🌸 Explore the Acropolis: Visit the ancient citadel high above Athens for breathtaking views. You can see some iconic structures, like the Parthenon.

🌸 Wander through Plaka: Stroll the charming streets of the Plaka neighborhood, filled with shops, tavernas, and picturesque alleyways. This area is super Instagram-worthy!

🌸 Visit the National Archaeological Museum: Discover ancient Greek artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry. This is one of the world’s most important archaeological museums.

🌸 Explore the Ancient Agora: Step back in time at the Agora. The Agora is the ancient marketplace where Socrates and Plato once roamed.

Day 5: Mykonos and Santorini

On the next day, we were supposed to stop in Mykonos in the morning and Santorini in the afternoon. Due to the weather, our stop in Santorini got canceled.

Luckily, I still got my chance to spend one day in Santorini on a cruise ship later in life.

The Mykonos Cruise Port

Mykonos has one major cruise port, located in Tourlos. It is located near the fabulous Agios Stefanos Beach.

The cruise port is pretty basic, don’t expect many amenities there.

From the cruise port, you can take a public bus to Chora or grab a taxi. It is about 1.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of driving time. It will cost you about EUR 10,00 to get to Chora.

Alternatively, you can also walk, but it takes about 30 minutes and there are no sidewalks. Alternatively, you can also rent a scooter or an ATV at the cruise port.

On busier days, cruise ships tend to anchor at sea and bring passengers to Mykonos with tender boats.

Things to Do in Mykonos

Mykonos ended up being my favorite port in the itinerary. I have written a designated blog post about how to spend one day in Mykonos on a cruise ship.

To sum it up, here are some of my favorite things to do in Mykonos:

🌸 Relax on Mykonos Beaches: Enjoy the sun and sand at beautiful beaches like Paradise Beach, Super Paradise Beach, and Psarou Beach if the weather permits.

🌸 Explore Mykonos Town: Mykonos Town is known for its charming white-washed buildings and colorful doors. You can nicely get lost there.

🌸 Visit the Windmills: Don’t miss the iconic windmills overlooking Mykonos Town. They are a symbol of the island’s past and are super picturesque.

🌸 Discover Delos Island: Take a boat trip to the nearby island of Delos, an archaeological site with ancient ruins. Make sure to book these trips in advance.

🌸 Shop in Matoyianni Street: Explore the bustling Matoyianni Street in Mykonos Town. It is lined with trendy boutiques, souvenir shops, and art galleries. A great place to bring souvenirs from your Eastern Mediterranean Cruise on MSC Magnifica.

🌸 Visit the Church of Panagia Paraportiani: Admire the unique architecture of this whitewashed church.

🌸 Lunch by the Waterfront: Enjoy fresh seafood and traditional Greek cuisine at waterfront tavernas in Little Venice. The area is filled with picturesque houses built on the edge of the sea. Super instagrammable.

Do you need travel insurance in the Mediterranean? Yes, travel insurance in the Mediterranean is highly recommended. Unsafe roads, water sports accidents, and food poisoning are only a few examples of when travel insurance could come in handy. EKTA offers worldwide travel insurance with 24/7 service and no hidden fees or restrictions.

Day 7: Dubrovnik

The Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik has two different cruise ports where your cruise ship might dock. The main cruise port is in an area called Gruz and is about 3 km outside of the city.

Some ships dock in the Old Town port, but their passengers have to be brought to shore with tender boats.

The cruise port has all the necessary amenities, like restrooms, ATMs, and rental car agencies.

You can either take a taxi or a bus to the old town.

Things to Do in Dubrovnik from Cruise Ship

I admit, when we arrived in Dubrovnik, I had never heard of the famous TV Show Game of Thrones. I was simply happy to discover the beautiful little city, with its ruins overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

The town is filled with 16th-century buildings and beautiful limestone streets. You can discover a beautiful Gothic-Renaissance Church or simply walk along the city’s rooftop wall.

The most famous attraction of the city is definitely the Game of Thrones walking tour. You can see all the fantastic spots where the series was filmed. I would have definitely taken that tour if I had known the series back then.

This is definitely one of the more relaxed stops. You can nicely explore the old town center and the wall and head back to the ship after.

drone shot of dubrovnik in croatia

What is the Best Month to Cruise the Eastern Mediterranean?

Personally, I would strongly recommend going in May, June or September.

The months of July and August are the busiest months of the year. Therefore the ships are very crowded. Also, it can become quite hot during the day, so exploring might be very hard on the body.

There are no school holidays in the off-season in Europe, so the chance of many children is also small.

However, I would not recommend visiting before May or after September. With the winds on deck, it can become too chilly to fully enjoy the experience on the ship. While inside pools are nice, nothing beats lying on the cruise deck and watching the ocean on a sunny day!

Conclusion: Eastern Mediterranean MSC Magnifica Cruise Review

This brings me to the end of my MSC Magnifica cruise review in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The cruise ship was luxurious, the food was amazing and the common areas were very relaxed. There are always things to do or explore in the giant swimming hotel, so a feeling of claustrophobia will never have a chance to creep in.

Lastly, I have to admit, that there were a lot of retired people on that particular cruise because it was in the middle of the off-season.

In general, I would say that cruising is becoming a lot more popular among young people. I have definitely made some great friends and celebrated some amazing parties on board cruise liners.

I can definitely vouch for cruises being a very luxurious and nice way to travel. Seeing a new city or even country every day leaves you speechless. It gives you a huge amount of impressions in a relatively short amount of time.

The interior of the entire MSC fleet strongly resembles a luxury resort. It fulfills every wish you could possibly have after a long day of exploring or a relaxing day at sea.

If you are wondering about other destinations of MSC, check out my Western Mediterranean Cruise Review and my detailed shore itineraries for Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and the Dominican Republic cruise ports.

FAQ: Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Review MSC Magnifica

Has MSC Magnifica been refurbished?

Yes, the MSC Magnifica has been refurbished in 2021. It has been dry docked and 75,350 square feet of space have been added to the ship. It now has an additional restaurant and 215 more staterooms.

What Class is MSC Magnifica?

MSC Magnifica is part of the Musica Class of cruise ships.

What is the dress code on the MSC Magnifica?

The dress code is informal during the day and smart-casual at night during the dinner setting. Keep in mind that there are themed dinner evenings (white night, Italian night, gala night, etc.) where you might want to dress in a special way.

Does MSC Magnifica have an indoor pool?

Yes, the MSC Magnifica has an indoor pool. The pool has a retractable roof, so it can also be used as an outdoor pool during sunny days.

Does the MSC Magnifica have waterslides?

Yes, the MSC Magnifica has a water slide on deck 14 and several other entertainment areas for children.

How many restaurants are on the MSC Magnifica?

There are now 5 gourmet restaurants on the MSC Magnifica. The latest restaurant has been added in 2021 when the ship was refurbished.

How many decks does MSC Magnifica have?

The MSC Magnifica has 16 decks. 13 of these decks are accessible to passengers, and the other three decks are only available to the crew.

How many passengers can the MSC Magnifica hold?

The MSC Magnifica can hold about 2.500 passengers. This is a lot less than on average cruise ships that have been built in the last couple of years.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.