My wife and I were very disappointed in the MSC Orchestra's Eastern Caribbean cruise. We were among approximately 1,300 people from the Cleveland, Ohio area that book a cruise every year over Super Bowl weekend. We found the MSC's organization to be highly disorganized compared to the way other cruise lines handled our group.
Our biggest disappointment was in the food. On several occasions, because of conflicts between the times the main dinning rooms were open and the times of the shore excursions, we ate at the ships buffet. We found the buffet line in the Cafeteria La Piazzetta to be narrow and hard to navigate. People walking back to their table had to move around the people in line picking up their food. The buffet's food was of the quality but not the selection found at a local Golden Corral. For instance, on two occasions the only dessert was white sheet cake; no cookies, pies, puddings or brownies. On one occasion, besides the sheet cake there were a few pieces of a pumpkin tart. However, on the day before, pumpkin tarts were served in the main dining rooms. The selection of meats at the buffets in the evenings, as well as lunch time, were usually hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese pizza, chicken, fish or luncheon meats. The food in the main dining rooms was better. Our assigned table was in the Villa Borghese. One night, when I had an excellent lamb dish, my wife had a beef filet. Her filet was tough and tasted like hamburger. She did not finish her steak nor did several people at our table. Our table was excited that they may get a good meal on the night they found lobster on the menu. Several of the people were planning to order two lobsters. When the lobster finally came, it had tasteless brown not pink meat that stuck to the shell. No one ordered seconds. A man from another table said that the lobsters were South Pacific tiger lobsters not the typical New England lobsters. The food service at our table was good but the cocktail service was horrible. The waiters could only take wine orders. The cocktail waitress would arrive at our table about the time we were being served our entree even when we requested cocktail service as we sat down. By the end of the cruise, when the people at our table would want a cocktail they would get up, leave the dining room, go to one of the bars to get their cocktail and bring it back to the table.
Shore excursions and disembarkation were basically hurry up and wait. For the whale watching tour we had to assemble at 8:45 in the theater located in the ship's bow only to be lead at 10:00 through hallways crowded with people to a gangplank located near the ship's stern. There was no explanation for the delay. We were originally scheduled to arrive in Nassau at noon but were informed the night before that we would arrive at 2:30. We were not allowed off the ship until 3:00. Again with no explanation for the delays. For disembarkation, we had to leave our cabins and assemble in various lounges at 7:00. Disembarkation started at approximately 8:30. And again there was no explanation for the delay. Breakfast was served in the Villa Boughese between 6:30 and 8:30 but since we were not informed of the delay we sat for over a hour in the lounge when we could have enjoyed a breakfast.
Our cabin was very comparable to the cabins we had on other cruise lines. The room steward was excellent. When we first arrived we found that the cabin windows were dirty. We told the room steward and for the rest of our trip the windows sparkled no matter how much sea water was splashed on them. During most of the trip we had a rough noisy ride. Our cabin was in midship on the eleventh floor and the balcony and windows would occasionally get wet from the sea mist from the bow of the ship. All throughout the night our cabin would squeak and groan as the ship bounced through the waves.
The entertainment aboard the ship was excellent. We attended an opera and two musical reviews in the Covent Garden Theatre. We enjoyed all the lounge entertainment. The drink menu was extensive and included many creative cocktails, martinis and coffees. My only complaint in the entertainment area was that the casino was small and over crowded. If you plan to use the casino, bring a lot of cash. There are no ATM machines on the ship and there is a 3 percent fee to cash travelers checks.
My wife and I will not go on a MSC cruise again and absolutely will not recommend it to our friends.