MSC Orchestra, great vacation at reasonable price
This was my second cruise and my first time on the MSC Orchestra. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. Before the cruise I read the reviews here on the MSC Orchestra and was therefore a bit worried.
Ship: (A) MS MSC Orchestra is a cruise ship that was built in 2007. She is the second ship of the Musica class. She can accommodate 2,550 passengers in 1,275 cabins. Her crew complement is approximately 990. The ship was really beautiful and was kept in perfect shape during the cruise. The ship was very quiet. From our cabin on the front side it sometimes almost felt like sailing. On the negative side I missed the open "shopping street" in the middle of the ship that I experienced during the Royal Caribbean cruise before. My girlfriend also missed better shops and shopping possibilities other than watches at double price etc.
Service: (B) English speakers should bear in mind that MSC is an Italian cruise line and that some of the staff isn't that fluent in English. No problem really, but I noticed that this was a surprise for some of the passengers. They found it difficult to communicate with employees on the ship (I did not). The announcements on the ship took a while because they repeated it in 5 languages English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Some of the staff could be more smiling.
Room: (A+) The outside room with balcony on 11th floor was very nice. Some might find it a bit small, but remember you are on a cruise ship with almost 2.600 passengers. The room was kept very clean with two times a day towel shifts etc. The bed was comfortable and we were not bothered by any outside noise.
Food: (C) The food at dinner time didn't meet expectations. Otherwise the buffet food was great. I want to give a big plus for the salad buffet at lunch time.
Swimming pools and Hot Tubs: (C) The swimming pools were too small and seemed to be for the children on board. However, I always found room in the group of hot tubs they offered.
Entertainment: (B) The dancers and singers were professional and incredible! Italian opera combined with classic pop music made the shows memorable (A+). I sometimes missed better entertainment during daytime. There was then no outside entertainment provided, except for deck games.
Boarding: (A+) Embarking and disembarking was very quick and easy. Our luggage was at the room 20 minutes after embarking.
Drinks: (C) There was a charge for non-alcoholic drinks, including bottle water. There were free water, juice and coffee machines during the buffet meals. A drink cost 6, 90 Euro, A large beer 4, 90.
Ports: (A) Copenhagen, Kiel, Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. The stop in Kiel was on a Sunday with all shops closed. You need a whole week in St. Petersburg to really discover the city, but MSC can't be blamed for that.
Fitness centre: (B) The fitness centre had too low capacity during peek ours. It was well equipped, but too small. The cruise companies should really do something about this because exercise is essential after all the food consumption on a cruise.
Casino: (B) Offered traditional slut machines, black jack, roulette and different poker games. I missed Texas Holdem tournament and Texas holdem table.
Tipping: (B) Standard service charge automatically charged (6 Euros per day per adult). If you want to tip otherwise you have to sign a form. It was explained that the tip was divided among all the employees, also those who work behind the scenes.
Misc: Keep in mind that on board expenses are paid in Euros. Language and cultural differences can be miss understood as lack of service. Once again, this is an Italian cruise line and the staff also serves passengers from other parts of the world where English is not the main language.
OVERALL (B): All in all, considering the price we paid, we were satisfied with the cruise. This is certainly a different kind of cruising with a more relaxed European feel. Be prepared to do nothing and enjoy almost every minute of it!!