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Sail Date: September 2010
I am a retired Civil Servant, Civil Aviation Authority, and am fairly well travelled. My wife and I live on the Costa Blanca in Playa Flamenca around 60kms South of Alicante. So when a cruise became available that suited our preference for ... Read More
I am a retired Civil Servant, Civil Aviation Authority, and am fairly well travelled. My wife and I live on the Costa Blanca in Playa Flamenca around 60kms South of Alicante. So when a cruise became available that suited our preference for the Med was departing from Alicante we went for it. We persuaded a neighbour to take us to the port and point of embarkation very easy. Then we checked in our cases, no probs, but then an interminable walk, which I do have problems with, to passport control, then up two flights of stairs to a walkway, about 200m to the gangway and not covered. So got very hot as it was a sunny day. There was a lift that arrived at the entrance but it was not being used. I have noticed that MSC are not alone in this. Most cruise passengers are getting on a bit and yet are expected to walk long distances from the ships to disembarkation points. In most cases this is avoidable and is just thoughtless. Only at Jerez could you step off the ship and straight onto the tours and transport services. After some form filling we were shown to our cabin arriving in a very hot state. The Cabin was an inside one and had all the usual ammenities so o.k.. It was thouroughly cleaned and maintained throughout. There was a very comprehensive book of shipboard information to study and the usual brochures on the ships attractions and trips ashore. The trips were quite expensive but we decided to go on a couple. Ship's information was by the usual letter to your cabin and very clear as to what was happening. The ship duly sailed and we went to our assigned dining room and table. La Ibiscus Restaurant, the tables were very crowded together and waiters had great trouble getting between us all. Not at all comfortable and it was compounded by the fact that the food was very ordinary. One of the main reasons we go cruising is the quality of the food and this was plainly nowhere near what it should have been, little choice, overcooked and too salty was a common complaint.. I can get a better Menu del Dias in my local Bar/Restaurant for around 10€. so this was a major disappointment. In addition anything outside the menus, water and wine we had to buy at very expensive prices plus a 15 per cent surcharge. Breakfasts could be had in the restaurant, excellen, or in the buffet. Lunch was the same but the Restaurant charged for water whereas it was actually free in the buffet bar. Quality of the food, apart from breakfast, was pretty average to poor. We are fairly lazy cruisers and like to sit on deck and either play cards or read. Most of the passengers were Italian and they proved very noisy and territorial, made the Germans look like amateurs. So quiet it was not but we did enjoy ourselves. We could not fault the Staff and the service they supplied. However there was much discontent about the price policy on board. Basic prices were very high. E.G. 2.50€ for a can of Diet Coke then a 15 per cent surcharge bringing this up to 3.70€. Totally rip off and most were aware of this and complaining. Thus when it came to the usual tipping, 7€ a day, most passengers cancelled out the end of cruise tips. I did not feel this was fair to the staff as we felt that MSC were just being greedy with a captive clientel and in spite of claiming it replaced the tipping option they still tried to charge this. Evening entertainment was to a pretty good standard and played in a very comfortable and well equipped theatre. During the day it was more of a Hi-De-Hi type scene and very active. Shore excursions were the usual mixture. We went ashore on our own in Jerez and used a local Taxi with a very friendly and informative guide. In Lisbon we used a ship's excursion, it was expensive for what it was, mainly a bus ride round a small part of the City and lasted about 3 hours. In Gibralter we went onto the Dolphin trip and it was excellent mainly because we encountered around 200 dolphins so it had to be good. Disembarkation was efficient but again a walk of over 250m was involved. I asked for, and was given the use of a wheelchair so well done MSC but it would be better to eliminate the need for it. On the whole I would not recommend MSC, the headline price is reasonable but the on-board costs make it an expensive experience. The Ship and the staff are great but that 15per cent surcharge on everything and the quality of the food left a bad taste. Never again with this firm. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
In terms of cost we got the deal of the Century,Return flights to Barcelona,a night in a 4 star Hotel and 8 Nights cruising all for £500 each in September !! We always bared this in mind when we encountered problems aboard. We had been ... Read More
In terms of cost we got the deal of the Century,Return flights to Barcelona,a night in a 4 star Hotel and 8 Nights cruising all for £500 each in September !! We always bared this in mind when we encountered problems aboard. We had been allocated Two cabins,and was told we had to move when we got to Malaga...The first Cabin was a disabled one and the Floor would flood when we Showered,also the ceiling would rattle all night which meant a broken sleep. We went to the Reception to see if we could change,this is when we first encoutered the Italian Staff who tend to have the more senior Jobs...The Girl simply said "NO" it's not a disabled Cabin which was laughable,when she was told to recheck she agreed it was...she called for head of Housekeeping and his answer was to say "well I never allocated ou this Cabin"...I told him that's true but surely it's your Job to sort problems out,whilst I was speaking to him he interupted and said"well you can give me a chance to speak"....The Second bit of rudeness and we was only a day into our Holiday !! Whilst leaving the Ship to go ashore at Genoa my Wife gave the Security man her card,the passenger in front was asking for his Knife of all things and they were checking through a box,I said to the security man Ill take our card and leave the other side and he said no...so I just picked it up and he said "well why did u give it to me then"....it left me fuming and I let him know !!! Add to this a A member of staff in the Buffet starting an argument with me coz I dared to pick a Plate up myself rather than let him hand it to me,this just left me completely stunned....also a shuttle bus to Town a senior Member of staff (Italian)made the staff who were going ashore get out of their seats,even though no one needed one..this made me feel sick when this is a few precious hours for these people and they deserved better !!! The bottom line is....we had a fantastic time,we met wonderful people....the Staff in the restaurants and the Bars and also cleaning are Lovely...they themselves dislike the Upper management who treat them badly and I can see why,if they speak to us like that god Knows what they say to them... Food is good in the Restaurants,drinks are very,very expensive all over the Ship...Refuse to pay the Service charges added per day,7 Euros each...because the Staff do Not get this...we Had to write a letter saying we would not pay it and simply tipped the Waiters,Bar and cleaning staff ourselves !!! If you get a deal like us then use MSC,if you are paying full price don't touch them with a Bargepole,spend you hard earned where you get a bit more respect !!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
Background Information: We have cruised once prior to this, a 12 day NCL Baltic Capitols Cruise. We chose MSC for the dates (fit kids spring break) and that we got two kids "free" (taxes/port fees only) in our cabin. Travel To ... Read More
Background Information: We have cruised once prior to this, a 12 day NCL Baltic Capitols Cruise. We chose MSC for the dates (fit kids spring break) and that we got two kids "free" (taxes/port fees only) in our cabin. Travel To Port of Embarkation: We flew from Belgium to the Barcelona airport, landing near 11AM. Taxi to the cruise terminal was smooth and easy. The cab driver did add a port supplement (I have no idea if it is valid) and the tab was about 28 Euro. Embarkation: This ran quick and smooth. We had pre-registered through the internet, so they shot web-cam photos of us, got a credit card signature, and presented our cards. (Oops... first pass they handed me someone else's credit card and receipt to sign!) We were at our cabin within 15 minutes, and our luggage arrived by the time we finished a buffet lunch. Ship Info: The ship was beautiful and very well maintained. The reception area is quite large and open. The theater was very good. The ship was quiet and smooth. One fact I didn't like is the lack of a real promenade deck. While it had the area for life-boat loading, the deck did not continue around the bow and stern, so was not used for walking or running. On the Norwegian Dream this was heavily used. The pools were cold salt-water. The hot-tubs were only luke warm. The recessed nature of the pool deck one deck below the upper sun deck made the pool area much warmer and less windy which was nice for an April cruise. They had a good supply of towels, but only 1 distribution and collection point... for the ship size four should have been provided. They called the upper sun deck the jogging track... no way. The sun chairs blocked the path too much to run on it. They have a big screen TV outside above one pool. It was neat, but several portions of the screen stayed black all the time. Stateroom: I expected a little more room for the second highest category. The balcony was also much less than I expected. We were quite crowded having 4 people in the room, but since two were cheap it is hard to complain. There was a queen bed (two twins combined), a pullout love seat, and one fold down bed. The bathroom was small but nice. The shower curtain was well planned, with the curtain attaching down the whole length on one side, and then having about a 4 inch overlap with a glass edge, so leakage past it was not a problem. Storage space was at a premium. In a couple places corner shelves could have been placed above items like the TV and a corner night stand, without taking space away. The light were not well planned. First, you need to insert the room key into a slot near the door to turn on the lights (common in European hotels). Then, you could not turn on and off most lights individually.... and two were high power spots directly over the fold out bed, shining right on the face of the person in that bed. This plan did not allow me to stay up late and read, as everyone would be subject to the light. Also, I had a run-in between my head and the fold down bed when getting up one morning.... it is right where you sit up on the side of the bed. Activities: With port calls everyday, we did not use many ship activities. The gym was good, with a nice view out the bow. Equipment included 6 treadmills, elliptical, bikes, a few weight machines, etc. Dining: This was the weakest area. Here's the by-meal breakout: - Breakfast. There is the buffet or in the restaurant. We used the restaurant day 1. The scrambled eggs were runny (yuck!), the bacon was to an American way under cooked (yuck!), the sausage and breads were good. The other days we used the buffet on Deck 13... at least we could see it before taking it. The menu sign said omelets to order. I tried to order one and was pointed to the pre-cooked ones with nothing in them. The bacon again was under-cooked, although the menu sign boasted of crispy bacon. There was a good selection of fruits, yogurt, meats, sausage, sunny side up, hard-boiled and scrambled eggs, plus breads. The only drinks included were tea, coffee, milks, water and so-called fruit juice (tastes like Tang). The buffet was crowded, and sometimes hard to find a seat, specially if the port call schedule drove people to eat at a certain time. - Lunch. Although they advertise the buffet, pizzeria, grill, and Villa as all available for lunch, the first three are all the same place....I went looking for them, and finally called to ask where they are! The food was OK, and only OK. No drink except water is included. - Dinner. The selection was decent. Most nights had 3 appetizer choices, a salad, 2 soups, 2 pasta/risotto dishes, 3 main choices, and dessert choices. They also had always available a beef, chicken, fish, and spaghetti meal plus a mixed salad. The quality was generally good, but not excellent.... clearly below our experience on NCL last summer. Beef was often overcooked. A real shortfall was NO DRINKS ARE INCLUDED. Not even water. A 75cc bottle of water was 2.60 euro. The service was not well organized. I expect everyone to receive the same course at the same time. This did not happen. Half the table might get a course, while the others sat with nothing for 5-10 minutes. We had the early 7PM) seating, and it normally lasted 90 - 110 minutes. We always were out in time for the evening show. Children's Clubs: Not used with a port every day. Service: OK. No ice in room first 36 hours until I asked (although the in-room material said it would automatically be provided). The room steward did a good job. The waiters/waitresses were not pushy. Entertainment: Decent, at least most of it. We watched the show every night. Four African acrobats were the stars many nights. Not only did they have incredible strength/coordination, they put on a good show with their talents. There was an alright magician, who stared one night and was a short act two others. One guy threw knives into the floor.... could have done without that. Another spun balls on strings and hit them on the floor to make a tap dance type noise.... much of the audience loved it when he swung them so they brushed his long hair, but we found it dull. They had two excellent singers (male tenor and female soprano) who were very talented. The Cossack dancers could not compare to the real ones we saw in Russia! The introduction in 5 languages was painful! Shore Excursions: We used the ship transfer to Marseilles, a fair deal at 7 euro each. We also used the cultural and historic Tunis tour. We were mostly pleased with the tour. It went to Sidi Bou Said (this is pushy sales people starting negotiation on a cheap dress at 160 euro, being insulted when we offer 10, then counter 80, 60, 40, 20 then being mad we didn't go for 20), and could be skipped. Also in this city they gave a carpet sales pitch.... I paid for a tour not a sales pitch. Positives were Carthage & the museum, plus unscheduled Roman amphitheater ruin and swing by the American Military Cemetery. The guide was knowledgeable, but really wanted everyone in a group and paying attention to him.... sometime we want to look around! The tour ran 5 hours vs. the 4 advertised (a positive). This itinerary goes to some of the dirtiest large cities in Europe. Marseilles, Genoa, Naples and Palermo just are not that nice, and do not provide a safe feeling. Also, the ship sold port maps for 50 euro cents, and provided a top ten list for each port. Helpful for those who do not research/plan in advance. Disembarkation: Our bags had to be out by midnight the night before, which is fine. I didn't like that we had to clear the room by 0730, 2 hours before our meeting time for disembarkation, and had to haul our small bags until then. They did not offer a place to hold your bags at the Barcelona port if you had time to explore the city. We took a taxi to Estacio Saints Barcelona Central and put our bags into storage lockers. We fit 4 medium to large suitcases, and two carry-ons into two large lockers @ 4.50 euro each. Summary: Good but not great. The food was the biggest let-down. The ship was super. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
My wife and I have taken four cruises before the one on MSC Orchestra. We disagree on many things, but on this we agree: Our cruise on the Orchestra was our worst. Here are the reasons. From our first night we had a clogged shower drain. ... Read More
My wife and I have taken four cruises before the one on MSC Orchestra. We disagree on many things, but on this we agree: Our cruise on the Orchestra was our worst. Here are the reasons. From our first night we had a clogged shower drain. We were told we had to be present in our room for someone to fix it and someone would come within five minutes of our call and it shouldn't take very long to fix. The next day after lunch we had some time so we called for a plumber to fix the shower drain. Fifteen minutes after our call the room steward showed up with a standard vacuum cleaner to fix it! He did some vacuuming of the dry shower stall and declared the problem was fixed! He then promptly left so we turned on the shower and the water did not drain. We called the information desk again for a plumber. They said one would be right up. Fifteen minutes later someone showed up at our room with a wheelchair they said that we had ordered. We explained that we ordered a plumber and not a wheelchair! Twenty minutes later a plumber finally showed up and in fifteen minutes fixed the problem. Not correcting this problem for us in a timely manner cost us the opportunity to catch the last shuttle into the city for a visit. Our experience with the tour desk also was problematic. First, we were told that the excursion we had most wanted to take from Marseilles, France, the eight and one-half hour Avignon & Marseilles, was canceled. The reason they gave was a lack of participants, but the real reason we think is that the ships time in port would not allow the longer excursions! They should not show these excursions as being offered (on the internet or at the tour desk) if they cannot or will not let you take them. We purchased three other excursions at the tour desk for different ports and were told that the excursions tickets would be delivered to our room the night before the excursion at the same time the steward deliveries the next days ships pamphlet of activities, which was usually by 9 P.M. It happened this way for the first excursion, but on the night before our other two excursions our tickets were not delivered to our room. We went to the information desk and inquired. We were told the tickets were being delivered to our room. We went back to our room. No tickets! We went back to the information desk and they sent us to the tour desk. The tour desk said the tickets would be delivered to our room. When we went back to our room later, there were no tickets. We went back to the tour desk. They told us they would personally deliver the tickets. The tickets never came! The next morning we went to the excursion meeting lounge and with great difficulty were able to get a tour leaders attention about our problem. They checked their list and verified we had paid for the tour and issued us hand written tickets for that days excursion. That night was the same thing all over again with our tickets for the next days excursion. We called the tour desk and complained. Mariam from the tour desk promised to personally hand deliver the tickets to our room. She never did! We went to the excursion meeting lounge the next morning and again after some difficulty were able to extract hand written tickets for the excursion. So, it seems neither the information desk nor the tour desk knows what customer service is. Nor do they know how to apologize. They do know how to tell you what they think you want to hear to get rid of you, but their promises are worthless! They try to pass it off as "you misunderstood me", but my wife and I were both present and we both heard the same thing. They lie! The life jacket demonstration was a joke. The person demonstrating how to put on the life jacket did not speak very good English and she was not familiar with how to explain the process. She had to keep reading and it made for a disjointed demonstration. Also, the music and talking in the adjacent lounge was so loud it was difficult to hear and concentrate on what she was attempting to explain. Thank goodness that putting on a life jacket is much easier than she made it look! The tour desk requested many passengers passports, ours included, two days before we were to disembark with the reason being the Spanish authorities needed to examine them prior to our disembarkation. After the ship left the Spanish island, Palma De Mallorca, we went to the information desk and requested our passports. They said we had to pick them up in the morning prior to disembarking. The next morning we went to get our passports and the information desk said we had to disembark first and the authorities would give them to us once we had left the ship! Fortunately, we saw one our dinner group with his passport which he said he had just picked up from the information desk. We went back to the information desk and demanded our passports and they were finally given to us. What a disservice to us to "misinform" us about when and where we would get our passports back. I hate to think of the problems we would have had if we had left the ship without our passports and went to customs. We would have missed our flight home to the U.S.A. Also, at the end of the cruise, when we went to the information desk to verify and authorize the charges we had made while on board, we discovered many charges that were not ours. We disputed those charges but the person at the information desk insisted that the charges were ours and demanded that we sign for them. We refused and upon further examination of the bill discovered that the disputed charges, which amounted to more that 400 Euros, belonged to passengers staying in the room next door. The person at the information desk then corrected our bill, but did not offer any sort of an apology. We also wish to make it known that the internet information we were given about what dinner attire would be was not entirely accurate. There was supposed to be three classifications: Formal, Semi-casual (no jeans), and casual. It turned out that there was never any dinner occasion that called for semi formal attire so we had packed far more clothes than needed. So the dinner attire is either formal or casual. No in between! Another issue is that on the Tunis, Africa early morning excursion, that leaves at 7:15A.M., they do not serve breakfast any earlier than normal. Breakfast, as usual, 7:00 A.M. so there is no time to eat prior to the excursion! And be careful of the lunch hamburgers from the cafeteria. They are cooked on the outside but are raw inside! Be careful at dinner if you order a glass of wine. You may get a carafe instead! The entertainment was repetitious. Each night's so called "different " entertainment had many elements of the same type in them. And if was laborious to listen to the pre entertainment introduction in four languages. Just start the show! Forget the introduction. The name tags the employees wear have the names in such small print you must ask for their names. So, in summary, we would not recommend this cruise ship to anyone. We all make mistakes, but according to them, they never did. The prevailing arrogant attitude and unapologetic nature of the information and tour desks made for much unnecessary unpleasantness. This vacation cruise was not the fun get away we had hoped it would be. I hate to be so negative but this cruise line deserves it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
The itinerary was fabulous, but of course that is a reflection of the geography and not the ship: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Tunisia, Mallorca, and return to Barcelona. All staff members were pleasant, but none really went out ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous, but of course that is a reflection of the geography and not the ship: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Tunisia, Mallorca, and return to Barcelona. All staff members were pleasant, but none really went out of their way to be helpful unless specifically asked for service. Unlike other lines I have been on (Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity), the MSC Orchestra does not offer any food service (other than paid room service) beyond the set dining times. And as unbelievable as it sounds, there is NO COFFEE OR TEA available other than at breakfast -- the machines are shut off promptly at 10:00 AM. No coffee after an evening meal. No afternoon tea by the pool. Ridiculous! Espresso is available for purchase at cost of about one Euro; that's it. All other lines I've sailed have 24-hour beverage-and-snack bar service, and I sorely missed it. It was particularly disappointing after a long overseas flight and hour-long taxi ride from the Barcelona airport to board the ship and have to wait several hours for the dining room to open. Other than purchasing cocktails or soft drinks at the bar, there were no refreshments of any kind available. This is downright chintzy and insulting, considering the amount of the fare we paid. The formal dining room food was mediocre, and rose to that level only because after the first night of being served a cold, unappetizing, nearly inedible mess, I raised heck with the Maitre D' about it. And I say "raised heck" because although I tried to register a complaint politely, he gave me an argument until I "pulled rank" and argued him down. The buffet meals (both lunch and dinner) were considerably better than the formal dining service, with a large and pleasant array of entrEes, sides and desserts. Breakfasts were fine all around, both sit-down and buffet. Of course the problem with ALL food service aboard ALL cruise ships is that hot dishes are never truly hot (warm at best), and this ship was no exception. The accommodations were comfortable and clean, and space was adequate in our cabin; however, I have now learned not to book a cabin at the aft (rear) of the ship. The motion is much more pronounced, and the noise from the engines and propeller were ever-present -- all the more so, thanks to the balcony. The ship was fairly new at the time of our April '08 sailing (launched 2007) and the facilities were attractive and well-maintained; however, I would say in terms of decor the Orchestra is merely "competitive" with other ships, nothing particularly outstanding. Last and not least, they say Americans tend to be rude and pushy when traveling? Ho ho..... I got news for ya. I was shocked at how many of our European shipmates routinely butted in line, scrambled past you to be first in or out of the elevator, didn't bother holding a door, no "pardon me," no "thank you," no "after you," no simple courtesies whatsoever. It often felt more like a cattle car than a cruise ship (but this, of course, cannot be blamed on the staff). The $1,300 fare for a seven-day sailing was about $400 more than I've paid for Caribbean cruises of the same length with balcony cabin. Part of the problem was the value of the dollar against the Euro, but even allowing for that, it was over-priced for what they delivered. Most attractive feature: The shore excursions were first-rate. Well organized, expertly guided, and of generous length. Summed up: "Grade C+" -- passing; nothing to rave about. Read Less
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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