I have heard lots of bad reports about cruising but it seems to be such an easy and comfortable way to see lots of places and I was not disappointed. I flew from Heathrow (flights included) to Rome and was met by the tour representative after customs and told what time the transfer would be and which conveyor my luggage would be on. I was happy to collect my own luggage as then I knew it was safe. I had paid 599 for my cruise and no extra for single supplement so was happy with the price.
I arrived at the port and was provided with my credit card room key and opted to have my credit card added to this. I was then able to find my room. I had studied the ships layout on the internet and it was easy to find and already knew where my cabin was. My case arrived within minutes of me finding my cabin. After a rest I was on deck and exploring the ship. The view of the port was amazing from deck 13 and food was available on this deck too - buffet style with pizzas being made for all More
to see. I was very happy with the choice of food and it could be carried to a nearby table with great floor to ceiling windows or carried to the pool area with many types of tables. The ship didn't seem so crowded but this was the busiest place - the buffet.
Coffee, tea and herbal teas with fresh lemon was available at various points around deck 13 and I regularly came for a different flavour of herbal tea. The English Breakfast tea was nice too. I helped myself to fresh fruit which I took to my cabin or ashore and yoghurt, cakes etc. I then decided to go ashore and walk around the immediate port area and saw the ship from the outside. Magnificent - the size and look in great condition.
Unfortunately I missed the safety check and later had a letter informing me of this and asking me to attend a second demonstration of life jackets and emergency procedure the following day. I had a programme delivered printed in English and decided to go to the show. The Covent Garden Theatre is beautifully decorated with very comfortable and spaciously laid out seats. The dancers and singers costumes were great and I enjoyed the presentation of the show with some comedy. There were English spoken along with other languages.
There were very few English on Board - I only saw one couple on the entire cruise, there were 0.7% from USA and similar from Canada and 3 Australians. I met a family from South Africa too. There were people from all over the world, Russia, Netherlands, German,French and many Italians of course. I didn't miss the English and was amazed how so many different types of people got on so well together with out and noisy arguments or disruption. It was all very pain sailing in my experience.
Considering how few English there were aboard the language was well catered for with English programmes, talks, excursions, the staff could all speak adequately too. Many of the rarer language tourist attended the English talks on behind the scenes of the Ship and the construction of the ship and these were presented by the Captain in English.
The public areas are very clean and bright, well appointed and laid out. My cabin was a good size with a double bed ( 2 singles tightly fitted together). The heat and air-conditioning was very efficient and easy to operate. A fridge stocked items to buy and 2 bottles of sparking mineral water were on my table. I had adequate space for all my clothes and other belongings with room under the bed to store my case. There was a washing line facility in the shower.
The sound proofing was good too and I was able to enjoy peaceful nights sleep.
I explored the first port of call by myself and walked to a nature reserve in Palermo. I then decided to buy 5 other excursion and details were available in English of the many excursions on offer. Most were about 54 Euro for a 4.5 hour excursion and the guides generally spoke 2 languages - Spanish and German and French.
I went to the restaurant 2 times for a 7 course meal and was allocated a table with English speaking guests from New York and Australia. The waiter had good English and was very polite and provided good service. I enjoyed hot chocolate and a BBC (banana, baileys and coconut)cocktail in a bar overlooking the grand piano and violin music a beautiful area on 2 or 3 levels near the theatre - a good place to watch the other passengers.
There were many bars with live music and a disco on the top floor. The casino was popular and smoking was allowed in here and a cigar room. The library had a large selection of English speaking books but only available during opening hours.
My ticket included a free massage and I enjoyed a bali massage in the spa and decided to buy a second hot stone massage for my last day. I would recommend a visit to the spa. There are specular views out to see from the high vantage point on deck 13.
Disembarkation was very efficient with a talk provided the afternoon prior in the Covent Garden Theatre and the instructions were provided in English in my room. A colour coded ticket fastened to my case and left outside my cabin and this was taken ashore prior to me leaving the ship and I was able to collect from the colour coded area. Less
MSC Orchestra Cruises to the Western Mediterranean
The cabin was very clean and well laid out, 2 Euro power points and 2 American. The bed was comfortable and firm and the bedding good. The Air-conditioning/heater was silent and efficient. The bathroom was well laid out. Good wardrobe space and a table and stool with lots of mirror. My cabin was cleaned through out the day - it seemed like every time I used the taps it had been polished clean. The towels were excellent and replaced regularly. The room was sound proof and lots of different lighting options with lights at the side of the bed, separate light at the dressing table area, lighting at the wardrobes. The quality and finish was very good and smelt fresh and clean. My cabin was adjacent to the lifts and very convenient for exploring the ship. I didn't get any noise from the lifts.
This was a brilliant excursion and the guide was first class - with English and German speaking. The views from the journey was lovely and a trip on a ferry was used for the last half of the journey again with beautiful views of the harbour. There was plenty of free time to explore Portofino which is very beautiful with lots of shops and photo opportunities. Have an ice cream at the opposite side of the harbour.
The Hippie Market was interesting but only took maximum of an hour to look round. It is pretty but not that interesting with the stalls selling similar items. There was some live music and places to eat and drink. I took a walk to the beach and sea just beyond the coach parking area. This was lovely.
This took us to hidden gems and was were dropped off at about 3 locations for beautiful views of the turquoise sea and a church. There was some free time and at the end of the trip we could leave the coach in the town and get a hopper but to the ship. The guide was very helpful and interesting and her English was excellent.
I walked from the ship to a nature reserve and this was north of the port and about an hours walk. I continued my walk past beautiful cacti and eventually had a great view of the town and my ship in the distance. The time ashore was from about 10am till 5pm so plenty to explore.
I took the inclusive transfer to the airport for my journey home and left my luggage at a special deposit area for 6 Euro then took a hopper bus 9 Euro return, to the railway station in Rome and walked to the central tourist area with the help of a map bought at a kiosk.
Our guide pointed out where to walk and the best places to see with some advice. I walked to the famous museum cafe which cost 2 Euro and included mint tea. The market where the couch dropped us off was very busy and you must be back in time as there isn't space to park for long. There was a continuous flow of coaches from our and other ships. The town was beautiful and highly recommended for a visit.
The walking tour did not have hardly any free time - taking in the Medieval part of the town - this is beautiful but most of the excursion was taken up at the perfume factory which was interesting but would have preferred more time in Monte Carlo or stopping on route to allow photos of the wonderful views.
There wasn't enough time here and because one passenger was late returning we didn't not get the full tour of the city. This was also partly due to a trip to a perfume factory which took up a big part of the excursion. The town of Monte Carlo is beautiful though and I enjoyed the time I had which was mainly escorted.