My friend and I flew from New Zealand to board the MSC Orchestra on its repositioning cruise from Rio to Genoa. We had a wonderful experience and are keen to repeat. The cruise was amazing value for money and we think we got a five star experience for a two star price. Thanks MSC.
Our balcony twin cabin, of a good size, was more than adequate for our needs and was kept clean and tidy at all times. We prepaid a drinks package and gratuities before we left New Zealand and felt that the drinks package was amazing value for money and service of bar and dining room staff was exceptional. We struggled to prepay all our excursions because we found the website difficult to navigate- improvements are needed in our opinion.
We chose to use the buffet rarely, though when we did felt the variety and range was exceptional. Instead we took full advantage of the five star dining experience and exceptional menu. We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing menus that were extensive and of high quality. The waiters assigned to our table were outstanding with the right mix of friendliness and formality. We adored them.
The Atlantic crossing was remarkably smooth and we were fortunate to have 17 days of brilliant weather.
Being first time cruisers we lacked the confidence to arrange our own shore excursions with the exception of Tenerife. There were very few English speakers on the cruise and it meant we were required to have multi lingual guides who were having to provide a commentary in at least two languages. At most ports the guides were exceptional and managed this well. On board prior to leaving for excursions there needs to be improvements to stream line the organisation of the groups and I was concerned to observe the poor accessibility of the tour buses which without exception had very high steps which was challenging to people with mobility impairments. MSC should consider only utilising accessible transport for tours.
Traffic on the tours in Brazil was particularly challenging and meant a level of frustration at time spent sitting in traffic on the bus.( How will they cope with the forthcoming World Cup?).
We were disappointed that the entertainment on this cruise at the pool area was targetted for the enjoyment of the large Brazilian clientele, due to the volume of the music and entertainment it made the pool area uninviting to us in the mornings.
We used some Beauty and Spa services and found them to be excellent and good value for money.
We had a slight glitch when we disembarked as I had a small credit balance, which I had no desire to queue to collect and this caused a minor delay that fortunately was very quickly resolved.
It was great to be able to order the daily newspaper from home and we found staff at reception, accounts and excursions desks at all times to be competent, polite and helpful.
We chose to attend only two entertainment nights , which were exceptional, and fellow passengers reported them as all being of a very high standard.
Overall this was a wonderful, memorable experience. MSC should be proud of its very hardworking talented staff.
We were aware that some English speaking passengeers did not enjoy this cruise to the same extent we did, however we felt they were making unfair comparisions with cruise lines that target the American and Australian markets. We think that if you are prepared to immerse yourselves in a European experience and accept that you will need to adjust to a European way of doing things then you will have a wonderful time on MSC Orchestra.