Family Embarkation with MSC Cruises in Barcelona

We don’t have a lot of experience cruising in Europe. We booked with MSC Cruises because the price and itinerary were right for our dates. We wanted to see many of the Mediterranean ports over our Christmas holiday and MSC had a great offer. MSC takes passengers on in several of the ports, making the embarkation unlike what we have experienced before. (Read about our Queen Mary II Embarkation here.)

We opted to take public transit to the Barcelona port. There is a Metro stop right at the port, making this part super simple. The public transport drops off on the plaza where you can pick up the Port Bus. We had plenty of time and the weather was lovely so we opted to walk to our ship – BIG MISTAKE.

The Port Bus is only €4/person and drops you off with your luggage right at the door of the terminal.

The MSC Orchestra was parked at one of the furthest berths from the city on the ocean side. This meant that we had to walk all the way down the port and then over a bridge. When we saw the bridge it was too late to make a different choice. The kids actually never complained. They were both using their ZincFlyte Scooter Bags and thought the whole thing was great fun. The three adults however complained a lot as the bags grew heavy and we were sweating in the Barcelona sun. It was one of those days where it was kind of cold out so you kept your coat on. But then you started sweating from the walk with the heavy bags.

The earliest check-in for new passengers is 12:00. Our tickets were marked for a 3:15 check-in but everyone seemed to be allowed to check in any time after 12. There are several embarkation locations for the cruise, which is making a little circuit, so lines are reduced at each embarkation point. Instead of having to turn the entire ship over in a day, the way MSC does it is turn over about a third of the ship on each of three days.

Once we finally arrived check-in was easy. We sent just our largest bags through bag check, bringing almost everything else with us. On past cruises we didn’t have our bags for hours, however this time our bags were delivered just a few hours after we had checked in.

There was absolutely no line, an advantage to having walked. We checked in and presented our passports and they printed tickets. Your key cards are in your stateroom.

One of our frustrations was that we had a few customer service issues to sort out but this all had to be done on the ship. We were not able to address these issues before the cruise or even with the check-in desk. Once on board Jeff collected all the cards and headed to customer service where he waited in line to have our key cards assigned to the right rooms and adjusted our dinner reservation time.

The kids had be registered with the ship. They each received a security bracelet that had to be worn for the entire duration of the cruise. They were happy to put our Little Little’s bracelet on his ankle so he did not try to pull it off. The kids also had to be registered in the kids club. You will need the cards of everyone who is going to pick up or drop the kids off. They link the cards to your kids.

Despite some of the hassle it was nice to be settled, with everything unpacked, before the cruise even left port. We were able to enjoy our dinner and head directly to bed when it was done.


Elizabeth is a Type A, Attorney turned Stay-at-Home Mom, who moved her family across the Atlantic for an adventure. She can often be found out and about finding fun things for her littles to do. Elizabeth loves to read, craft and chat with friends. She will try just about anything and loves to share her experiences.

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