Having sailed on the MSC Poesia out of Venice in October 2008, we were so impressed by the ship and her crew that only a week after we got home, we booked her sister ship, MSC Orchestra, out of Fort Lauderdale for April 4th, 2009.
Arriving to Port Everglades at 11:45 am, we embarked almost immediately and were enjoying the buffet at 12:30 pm. Talk about efficient! Our cabin was ready at 1:30 pm, our luggage arrived at 3:30 pm and we unpacked into our well appointed home for the next week. Lots of storage in these rooms and our mid-ship location on deck 10 was super - you gotta love that balcony view.
Every day we had fresh towels, a bucket of ice, a bowl of fruit and a nicely cleaned cabin (twice a day). Our cabin steward Andre and his assistant took great care of us.
Anyone who complains about the quantity and quality of the food on this ship needs to give their head a shake. The buffet was fabulous any time of day, lot of choices for adults and children. In the L'Ibiscus dining room we were treated like royalty by the trio of Suda, Hamid and of course Filipe! The wine list was extensive with very reasonable prices. The menu and presentation of the food was that of a five star restaurant. We loved every minute of the evening dining experience.
As repeat MSC cruisers, we also enjoyed extra amenities such as priority tender designation, discounted purchases on board, a bottle of champagne in our room, an MSC souvenir and other little niceties.
Other reviews have criticized the European flavor of MSC Cruises, but we found it very refreshing. It must be difficult for the crew, most of whom are Italian or Indonesian, to deal with the "how much more can I pile on my plate and NOT eat" or "give me another %#@$ beer, I've only had ten tonight" or "I can smoke wherever I want to" mentality that we witnessed on several occasions. But they do deal with it - and a lot more politely than I would. The loud and rude behavior of some of the guests was down right embarrassing but the crew just took it in stride.
We echo the positive comments of others regarding the beauty of Orchestra's lounges, bars, staircases, restaurants, etc. She, like her sister the Poesia, is truly a work of art. The crew work round the clock to keep her shiny and clean and we know that most people noticed and appreciated that.
We enjoyed all of the shore excursions, two of which required tendering and were handled very well by the crew. Chankanaab Park in Cozumel, Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, and the beach at Cayo Levantado are all available without booking an excursion. One word of advice - go ashore early to secure the best seating locations.
The disembarkation also went smoothly and the welcoming committee at the port was one of the friendliest bunch of people we've seen in a while. If we could have stayed on for another week, we would have, but the ship was fully booked - no doubt because of the ridiculously low rates MSC has been offering. We are already planning our Northern Europe MSC cruise for the end of the year. We can't wait!
We are 'hooked' on MSC Crociere!