After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy.
The ship itself was magnificent and when we (my wife and I) first saw it in Copenhagen we were impressed. Despite all the previous criticism we were dropped off by our taxi, had our luggage taken and tagged, showed the path to take to registration, received our information pack and cruise cards and on the ship within 15 - 20 minutes.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 11 and it was very nice indeed - we actually had room to move in the bathroom!!
Throughout the cruise we were looked after by 2 great cabin attendants and nothing was too much for them. I think the secret is common good manners, a good morning and good evening and a thank you - goes a long way. Yes they were not particularly good at English but it is amazing how patience, manners and a smile goes a long way. They spoke 3 languages - I only spoke English. I wonder who was the one who was really disadvantaged.
Food and Food Service
The food was one of my main concerns after reading the very poor comments. Perhaps we were on a different cruise line witha similar name because both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and generally the food service particularly from our 2 dinner waitesr who made our dinner time such enjoyable occcassions. Yes it was 3 back to back cruises so the menu was repeated on a number of occassions but regardless it was good with a good selection. We took the second 8.30 pm sitting and the menus were well presented and the food was good quality servewd by very nice staff. The maite'd came over to our table (and others) almost every evening to see how we were were going. We know for a fact that he replaced the waiter at the table next to us as they had concerns with him. The food in the buffet on the 13th floor was also very acceptable with a wide choice including Regional and a buffet of salads. One of the most memorable aspects of the buffet was the magnificent midnight buffets with bautifully presented ice carvings, butter carvings and well presented food and deserts. It was delicious.
We went on at least one land tour in each port and were mainly impressed with the quality of the guides and the locations. The Norway stops were absolutely breathtaking and there was so much to take in. ST Petersburg was memorable as was many of the other land tours. Cant fault MSC on these.
We simply enjoyed coming back onto the ship and sitting for a while over one of their great cocktails in on of the numerous bars. We attended a variety of activities including cooking demonstrations, quizzes, wine tasting and a fashion parade. The ship was spotless and I was generally satisfied with the prices on the ship. Most of the crew were very pleasant and efficient but we did have run ins with some very rude security staff who thought it was their job to grunt as you went through with your cruise card.
Generally we had no problems with the passengers and met some lovely people on the cruise. We only had real problems with one very large group of about 1,000 people from a particular country which borders the southern Baltic near Denmark. Talk about a complete lack of manners and so rude - we weren't the only ones who had problems with them.
One area with we we really had problems was with the Accounting Dept and the main desk. They were unbelievable. You would get one answer from one person, then go back later to check and get a different answer. Incompetence seemed to be the rule of the day with them. We only found 1 person from each area that really knew what they were talking about.
They didn't have movies during the day and they need to sort out their smoking policy. Having one side of a bar smoking and the other non-smoking does not work out.
We enjoyed our time on the cruse and actually I said to my wife I would be quite happy to stay on board and continue to cruise.
Yes, you can find fault in even the best place but we did not take a cruise to find fault - we came to enjoy the cruise which we did.
And by the way we have nothing with MSC other than being satisfied cruisers.
Yes, we would do another MSC cruise.