7th May to 15th May 2011
Our group of 49 travelled to Copenhagen on board SAS Airlines.
The coach was waiting on our arrival and took us straight to the Cruise Line MSC Orchestra, There was no delay and the check-in was very efficient. They take your credit card details and issue you with their own credit card which is your the key to your cabin, boarding and disembarking identity card and the card you use for purchase of drinks and items from duty free and onboard shops. When booking they tell you there is a €7 per person per day gratuity which at your discretion will be added to your bill. This is the first negative comment as it is added daily. We asked that it not be added until the end of the Cruise but they insisted they were adding it and we would have to discuss its removal at the end of the cruise, but to be honest we were very satisfied with the service of all their staff. It would be better they added the gratuity to the overall cost and forget about adding it to the bill.
The ship was stunning and top of the range in luxury. We sat for our first evening meal and of course not been used to Italian food we ordered starter, main course and sweet, which when served was very small portions so we actually left the table still Hungry. This was our first mistake. The Menu was a 5 to 6 course menu and we should have ordered all 6 items on the menu Appetizer, Soup, Starter, Main Course, Sweet and finally Cheese Board . (ask for more if you like any of the items) Wine for the table is approx €20 per bottle, however, for €8 you can order a carafe of house wine which is approx 6 glasses, and very good wine.
On Deck 13 there is the Buffet Bar opened basically all day until 9pm. Tea and Coffee and drinking water are all free 24 hours. You can help yourself to perhaps every conceivable dish you would want . The usual Fry-Up, Burgers, chips, salads, fish, sweet, cakes, fruit etc.etc. So there is no reason to go hungry on the cruise, and there is plenty of places to sit and eat.
You are charged for bottle water at your dinner table which is very silly and at €3 is a stupid addition and takes greatly from the overall impression of the cruise and ship. HOWEVER!!! Your can get drinking water free on Deck 13 24 hours a day so although from a health point they do not allow you fill a bottle. You can of course take as many glasses of the water to you table and fill your water bottle at your table.
The shows were short approx 30 minutes, but small is wonderful, and you will really enjoy the wonderful variety of the shows. This leaves you plenty of time to sit in the many bars each with their own evening entertainment and always plenty of room to sit, so no need to rush out after the show to grab a seat. The groups and musicians in the various bars are great. Another nice gesture from the ship was that at approx 11pm every evening waiters came around with trays of sandwiches as much as you wanted. One evening they rolled in the chefs and trolleys and prepared pancakes for anyone that wanted them. On our last night on the Ship they opened the Buffet Restaurant at 10pm and stayed open until 1am for the last night Banquet. Again every type of food you copuld think of was there for you to eat and of course no extra charge.
I cannot express the absolute class and quality of MSC Orchestra, but next was the scenery, never in my lifetime and having covered many countries over the years had I been prepared for the stunning scenery up the Norwegian Fjords. It was also a great surprise to find the Ship docked almost in the Town at all places we visited. Only once did we anchor and the Ship used its own Landing craft to take us ashore and back to the ship. There was possibly 20 to 30 of the Ships motor boats holding enough to get everyone ashore and back without any need to queue.
The cost of the excursions were expensive which is normal on Cruise Ships, However if you get to know enough people on the Ship you can go the local tourist office ashore and get 15% discount for 10 or more. The 15% is also off a much cheaper price at the Tourist Office than on the ship. This applies to the Hop-on Hop-off services in most cities. So get 10 together when going ashore and save money.
Our over-all impressions.
The Ship was terrific,
Scenery was amazing,
Food was great,
Shows were great,
Thanks to all who helped make this a memorable Cruise.