1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. MSC Cruises
  4. MSC Orchestra Review
  5. MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
this was our first cruise.My wife's ambition to cruise the Med. Visions of good food, good service and interesting places to visit, the main reason for chosen this particular cruise was its ports of call. Unfortunately it wasn't ... Read More
this was our first cruise.My wife's ambition to cruise the Med. Visions of good food, good service and interesting places to visit, the main reason for chosen this particular cruise was its ports of call. Unfortunately it wasn't as we had hoped. Dumped at the harbour side with our luggage, ignored by some attendants wearing high vis jackets and expected to fathom out the boarding procedures. when we were acknowledged it was a curt' go over there. ' .having left home at 2.30 am arriving at Barcelona port at 10 and not expected to board ship until 3 it was not a god first impression. Obtaining the cabin key was another farce. it would have made more sense to have explained that the key, along with the luggage would be in the allocated cabin which would be unlocked.The cabin was clean and adequate but the wind noise when at sea and the drone of the engines was nearly un-acceptable. the ship was clean and tidy, well furnished if perhaps a little dated. The staff were friendly and some very helpful. The items to purchase on board, drinks,water and excursions ( if you hadn't purchased in advance) were very expensive. The self service cafeteria was like feeding time on the farm with everyone pushing and shoving and devouring as much as they could get there hands on. not like the vision of civilised dining we had anticipated. the food was bland and tasteless and a bit monotonousness. the allocated evening restaurant served minute portions of similar quality. Not to be recommended is the Chinese, Japanese restaurant that was available for an extra charge, i can say it must rate as one of the worst i have ever eaten in and is an embarrassment to the nations it is meant to represent. avoid at all costs. now the good points. The salad bar and fruit bar were both excellent. the evening entertainment was superb, a pleasure to watch and the fact we had pre-purchased a drinks package allowed us to sample different cocktails.. sorry but that's it . The daily itinerary, along with suggested evening dress code was a good idea, telling us times of various activities and also which musician was in which bar. its a pity that most people chose to ignore it, unless jeans, trainers and open neck shirts are classified as evening dress for men . ! ! ! we were charged a charitable donation to our on-board account, another payment they think there gusts should make . this seems to be an automatic, not notified charge that the inexperienced guest need to be aware of. our overall opinion of this cruise line is, that it wants to extract as much money as possible from its guests and give as little in return as possible. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Our cruise was a 12 night round trip from Barcelona. Stops were Funchal, Malaga, Tenerife, Casablanca, Rome, Genoa, Marsielle. We travelled from November 27th - December 9th. As an avid cruiser I have been on many lines including ... Read More
Our cruise was a 12 night round trip from Barcelona. Stops were Funchal, Malaga, Tenerife, Casablanca, Rome, Genoa, Marsielle. We travelled from November 27th - December 9th. As an avid cruiser I have been on many lines including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Holland America etc. I was very much looking forward to our MSC Orchestra cruise as the itinerary was very good and much better than other lines. Unfortunately, MSC did not live up to our expectations at all. Below are a few reasons why I would not recommend cruising with MSC, especially if you have experience cruising with other lines. Please note that I am an American cruiser and thus have certain expectations with regard to customer service and overall professionalism of staff. Below may not be important for other travelers (many of our European counterparts did not seem to be frustrated by this cruise experience), but for myself and many American and Canadian passengers I met on board my cruise these were problematic areas. So important to note that there may be some cultural differences and expectations that are important to consider. Embarkation in Barcelona: We were told that we would boarding the ship at 3:00. The ship was late to port and we did not board until around 4:30/5:00. The staff were very disorganized at check in. Most other cruises that I have been on check in provides you with your cabin keys and provides you with an overview of what to expect when checking in, not MSC. We "checked in" with the front desk people at the port and then walked to the ship. Upon entering the ship from the gangway our pictures were taken (which is standard) for disembarkation and embarkation at ports. We then walked through designated areas in the ship and were bombarded by staff trying to sell us alcohol packages, drink packages, shore excursions. Please keep in mind that we have not even seen our room yet or even had a chance to wine down. Really unprofessional and tacky to put guests through this within the first 2 minutes of coming on board. We then finally were out of that zoo and realized we did not have our room keys. We were not told at check in where to get the room keys so we assumed the keys would be at the concierge on floor 5. We go to floor 5 and wait in line just to be told that the keys are in the rooms and the rooms are unlocked. A bit ridiculous to not tell guests at check in before entering the ship that the keys are located in the rooms. We finally get to our rooms and were happy with our cabins. We were located on the 12th floor with balcony rooms. The rooms were well appointed and clean and were as spacious as a cruise ship room could be. Cabin Overview: As mentioned above, the cabins we had were good and we were happy with them. I think MSC did a good job with the layout given that the rooms are only about 180 square feet. The mirrors in front of the bed really help to make the room feel more spacious. Basic amenities, nothing to write home about, but were fine. Good hair dryer, much better than Norwegians. Formal Dining: Perhaps the most disappointing part of the cruise was the formal dining. The formal dining food was truly awful. We were assigned to L Hibiscus and I have no idea how the chef is still employed. Service was great and staff were attentive, but the quality of the food was very poor. Portions were incredibly small and should not be labelled as entrees and are appetizer sized. Please note that I am a petite 5'2 105 pound female and found that the portions were tiny. I also am in now way a monstrous eater. I felt that the portions were too small for an average person. The food was also just bland and had no creativity. I have cruised with Norwegian Spirit and their food was absolutely incredible. I still think about a rack of lamb that I had in that cruise and how wonderful it was. I also generally prefer to do sit down dining in cruises. On MSC Orchestra I did not look forward to the formal dining at all and at times opted for the buffet instead (will speak about buffet in moment). Perhaps the only exception were the desserts. I enjoyed 90% of the desserts that I tried in the formal dining restaurant. Again nothing special, but perhaps because the food was so bad it made the desserts seem great...who knows. Another thing that was incredibly tacky and again perhaps this is cultural was that we had to PAY for our bottled water at the formal dining table. Absolutely ridiculous by American standards, especially since tap water was free in the buffet. I did not understand why they could not just serve tap water in a pitcher in the formal dining (this is what Norwegian does). Finally, another disappointing thing was that in the formal dining, tea and coffee were not served with dessert. This is usually standard on any cruise I have been on. Again you have to PAY for coffee and tea at the formal dining even though it is free in the buffet....again its just an inconsistency that speaks volumes about their priorities and management. I usually take pictures of all of my formal dining meals on cruises. Was so unimpressed that I didn't even bother taking one. Buffet Dining: Saving grace for the dining was the buffet. I was surprised that their lunch buffet was actually quite good, much better than their dinner buffet. Their salad bar was excellent. There were many kinds of lettuce to choose from and toppings. Please note that if you do not eat pork there are not non-pork meat options as salad toppings. Since MSC is Italian owned this is not at all surprising, but that I would include in this review in case some are wondering. Generally, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan it would be difficult to find good items to eat on this ship. They also had a decent fruit station, not much variety usually cantelope, apples, and grapes. Sometimes they had kiwis and other tropical fruit. They also always had whole fruit like apples, kiwis, tangerines (sometimes) which was nice if you wanted to take ashore as a snack. Would have been nice if they had some bananas or berries, but seeing that we were there in the winter these may have been out of season in Europe. Overall, the buffet had a pretty good range of food. Lots of hot dishes (fish, meatballs, chicken, etc). They always usually had burgers, hot dogs, and french fries for the unadventurous types. What was also pretty awesome is they also always had a cheese and cured meat station so you could make your own charcuterie board if you wanted to. The desserts were also generally pretty good, they were my favorite part of the dining experience in general. They are a bit redundant in that they basically do the same kind of dessert over and over again (usually a sponge cake with some kind of filling) but still good. They did have great panna cotta and also had a wonderful coconut dessert when I was on board. Entertainment and Activities: To be honest I usually do not partake on cruise ship activities so I cannot speak to the quality of those or the shows. My mother, however, did attend most of the shows and she said most were excellent. I spent most of my time in the gym and the spa. Gym: Very very small for a ship this size with close to 3,000 passengers. Our cruise was not even at capacity and for those wanting to use machines it was pretty difficult to snag a spot. Not a problem for me as I generally use the aerobics floor and do not utilize machines but if you are hoping to work out everyday at 4:00 be warned that you will need to wait some time for a treadmill. If i recall there were maybe 8 treadmills, 3 elliptical machines, and 2 stationary bikes. They also had some weight machines and free weights (for american travelers please remember they are in Kilos!). The staff the the gym were friendly and I enjoyed seeing them everyday. Best times to work out will either be very early morning or later at night (when dinner and shows are going on). On Orchestra the gym was open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Also no water cooler in gym....kind of ridiculous. You needed to go to the buffet up one floor and across the ship...not customer friendly (and frankly a bit unsafe). Spa: Please note that in order to utilize the sauna and steam room on this ship you must have purchased the Aurea Spa Pass. it is about $70 for a two week cruise. The spa was OK, again amenities were nothing to rave about, but if you were to come at off times (which I usually did) you could basically have the place to yourself. There are three whirlpools, 2 saunas, and 2 steam rooms. One of the steam rooms was bigger than the other. The saunas were the same, only difference was one was usually much warmer than the other. Please note that it is all Coed. We were told that it was separated by gender, but the travel agent was incorrect about this. Not a very big deal to me, but may be important for others. In the area where the whirlpools are there was a very small sitting area with maybe 4 or 5 chairs where you could lie down and see the ocean. Not very pleasant when it is busy as it was very loud and not relaxing. However, again if you were to come at an off time you could basically have it to yourself. The spa is technically open from 9:00 - 9:00 PM, however, you could come in between 7:00 - 9:00 and use the sauna and steam room so long as you were not wearing a bathing suite (towels only or as they put it highly recommended). Basically you could not utilize the 3 whirlpools from 7:00 - 9:00. Overall the spa was also very very small for the volume of passengers. The women's "locker room" had only one bathroom and two sinks. As a comparison when I cruised with Norwegian they had an entire area dedicated to showers and hairdryers etc. No hairdryers etc. on this MSC ship in the spa. Spas are generally my favorite part of a vacation so I was a bit disappointed that the spa was not a bit more robust, but I did the best with what I could and chose hours where it was not packed. Service: Truly was a mixed bag. There were some staff who were very attentive and very customer service oriented and others who were not. A note to fellow American passengers customer service will not be on par with what you expect and experience in the states or on american operated cruise lines. I am very well traveled and Europe in general is not known for its excellence customer service. For example, my brother had gone to the bar to ask for some water and ice (pretty standard in american bars and actually I think required by law that they serve you water if you ask - I actually thought this was standard in other places too). The bartender put ice and water in the glass and then said to him "oh actually you need to go and get water from the buffet" she then proceed to dump out the ice and water that was already in the glass....she had already done 99% of the work, all that was left was to hand my brother the glass. Things like this would happen often. It is just not something that we are accustomed to. The staff generally don't really go above and beyond (unlike Norwegian) and they basically just do what they need to do. Also the levels of professionalism really varied among the staff, something that I did not experience at all on Norwegian. The staff were also disorganized. For example Day 1 dinner we asked three people what time our second seating for dinner was and we got three different answers....this should not be happening. It became clear that they do not spend a good amount of time on training their staff. Also generally, on Norwegian most of the staff seemed very happy while on MSC the staff were not very engaged. I am not sure if perhaps the pay and benefits are better on Norwegian, but it was a noticeable difference. Some of this may also be due to language barriers. There are many languages spoken on the ship so understandably it may be hard for staff to keep up with all the languages. The primary languages spoken are Italian and Spanish - as an fyi. Very few English speakers on board. If you are looking to travel with fellow English speaking travelers do not cruise with MSC as you will be disappointed. This was not an issue for me, but may be an issue for others. An additional side note - for those with nut allergies/special needs when it comes to food. When I cruised with Norwegian I was incredibly impressed by their dining team. Every night before dinner, my waiter would come to my table and would walk through each menu item with me to ensure that I was not allergic to any items. On MSC, the level of service is absolutely not the same. I was never confident in their ability to keep me from having an allergic reaction. There were 2 or 3 times that I had to send food back because there were nuts in it even through the waiter/ maître d specifically told me that there were not nuts on the menu that day. Again, I do not necessarily think this is the fault of the staff, but rather poor training on the part of upper management. Ports of Call and Excursions: We picked this cruise because of the ports of call and thought that MSC had the best variety as compared to other lines. Malaga was beautiful as was Funchal. We did one shore excursion through MSC in Morocco and were very happy with it. We thought that overall they did a good job of showing us the sights in the limited time that we had. We also had a wonderful lunch at Hotel Farah in Casablanca that was included in the excursion cost. In all honesty, the food we had at Hotel Farah was better than any food that was served on the ship. The guide was very friendly and made us feel welcomed. One major problem however was that again MSC was not good at being organized for disembarkation. Specifically at Malaga they were already late by 1 hour getting to the port and we only had a 6 hour stop. So now it was cut down to 5 hours. On top of that it took them over an hour to disembark us...so now we only had 4 hours. Malaga was very rushed and this made the experience unfortunate. Overall: Overall my biggest issue with MSC was that they are not customer oriented. It is obvious that they are just in it to make money from passengers. This was evident in embarkation where we were being sold packages and even at formal breakfast and dinners the staff would walk around trying to sell you hand squeezed orange juice or shots. just really tacky and unprofessional. These types of behaviors cheapen the experience for passengers and MSC should really discontinue this practice. They are also very disorganized. One prominent example of this was disembarkation and embarkation. which I discussed in detail above. Another example was trying to get coffee or tea in the buffet. It was absolutely ridiculous. The hot water would always be empty, there were never enough mugs, sometimes there was no milk. In short, it was always a crapshoot. As my brother comically put it, everything with MSC is like a scavenger hunt. I once spent 25 minutes just trying to find the hot water, tea, and milk for a glass of tea. These are obvious upper management problems that need to be addressed and they effect the overall operation of the ship. Again, the customer service was mixed, however, one thing that I am glad they did not mess up was that I ordered a cake for my mother's birthday for our last dinner. They did deliver that as promised and it made the trip extra special for her which was nice. While I really wanted to love my experience with MSC, because they do have a wide range of itineraries, unfortunately the general consensus of our 6 person family was that we would not cruise with MSC again. We would opt to cruise again with Norwegian (and wish we did this time) or with a more expensive line (Celebrity, Holland America, Viking). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I didn't choose this cruise line but decided to go along with a couple of girlfriends for the adventure. In general, room was very clean but extremely small, the staff were mostly friendly (sometimes out and out rude) but the English ... Read More
I didn't choose this cruise line but decided to go along with a couple of girlfriends for the adventure. In general, room was very clean but extremely small, the staff were mostly friendly (sometimes out and out rude) but the English was extremely tough to understand (I was not expecting this as I was told that every employee is required to speak English), and the food was edible, nothing to get too excited about. The dining staff was fantastic and tried their best to accommodate. I bought a coffee card knowing that the coffee served in buffet is always instant. The unfortunate part about this is I was literally in search of a cafe/bar that would serve me at 6 am. I was told they didn't open until at least 6:30 am and to try another bar, only to get the same response. Needless to say, I found this response and lack of service atrocious. The biggest complaint I had was about the 'wellness package' (WP). Knowing I was traveling with friends that were not interested in being active, working out or doing much in the way of walking around new cities, I opted for the wellness package. I was hoping to make friends, get involved in groups (brochure said there would be specific excursions set up just for the wellness package guests--not 1 excursion was planned) and take classes (1 free class a day, HA, great concept if they actually offered any!) I signed up but was told they only offer the class if they have at least 5 passengers sign up. The entire week, they didn't offer one class. With regard to my room, it was located one floor down from the fitness area, which was great. I was told that the entire block of rooms were reserved for WP but I had to complain to my cabin steward about my neighbors smoking on their deck several times. Completely unacceptable. So to summarize, no group excursions, no group classes, no personal training. Only benefit at all was not paying for water the entire cruise, which I added up and it would have cost me approx. $100 for the water. MSC needs to re-evaluate the WP and get it right because the concept is fantastic. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze so they did something right. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Embarking was not a big deal. And the crew (for the most part) are very nice. Notice I didn't say 'helpful'.... just nice. It IS like a ferry experience with so many people getting on and off the ship. Didn't really ... Read More
Embarking was not a big deal. And the crew (for the most part) are very nice. Notice I didn't say 'helpful'.... just nice. It IS like a ferry experience with so many people getting on and off the ship. Didn't really bother me - unless they were rude! Which so many of the people were. I think the fact that I am American, may have a little to do with how I viewed my cruise experience. I have never encountered so many rude, pushy and mannerless people in all my life! I know this is not the cruise lines fault. But it really did affect my voyage! The food in the buffet was so-so, very unorganized, crowded and often times the food trays to chose from were empty. The dining room was also so-so... not enough options for most people. I like most anything but my travelling companions had a difficult time with the menus. Our waiter was very gracious and quick. The head waiter, Valentien was excellent! Very professional and yet ready to help with whatever was needed. I believe he has moved on to greener pastures... good for him! The wine selection was sub par and expensive. I found a few bottles that didn't stink. But I would never drink the wines that were offered in the dining room. Always bought from the list. Our cabin steward was pretty good. Came in a couple of times to find clever shapes done w/ our PJ's. I think that when you spend this type of money on your vacation - you should feel spoiled. I definitely did not. Fortunate to be able to take such a vacation, but not spoiled. MSC needs to bump up the game! There are many cruises to chose from and they need to step it up so that people want to chose theirs. Their people work SO hard!! 11+ hours a day, 7 days a week! that is so unfair. I saw the same wait staff at all 3 meals sometimes. As well as in the clubs later on! Good bye MSC... I'll stick to Princess where that is exactly what they treat you like- ROYALTY! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Chose this cruse, because want to try different line. Had an experience with Royal and NCL. Pros: Cabin-very spacious , always clean, enough space for storage. Entertainment- very good singers and dancers. Really enjoyed it. ... Read More
Chose this cruse, because want to try different line. Had an experience with Royal and NCL. Pros: Cabin-very spacious , always clean, enough space for storage. Entertainment- very good singers and dancers. Really enjoyed it. Food-delisious pastries spa- underestimated hidden little gem. Spa pass is $50. Obviously its not comparable to NCL, but its a good spot to hide from the croud and enjoy the jacuzzi and a steem room with unlimited access. cons: Food- the most horrible I ever tryed. Horrible taste with very little options. Sometimes not available at all. Why is that happened that people come from excursions at 5-6pm and there is nothing but disgusting pizza? Service in buffet area is so bad: when I asked for a napkins (isn't it supposed to be on the tables or at lest by the plates?) the waiter told me to go and ask people behind the counter. Not a one meal that we enjoyed on this cruise. Excursions was not bad, but our bus had people of 4 languages, and its so annoying to listen all translations all the time. We sign in online for a membership of MSC. Full ignoring. The last: all ads on the loudspeaker you could hear only in hallway. Nothing in the rooms. My advice to people who already booked it : just set up your mind that you are taking ferry from point A to point B. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose this cruise because the Meraviglia was full and we thought that MSC was a quality brand so, any vessel should be good enough. This was our first time and I have to confess that my expectations weren't cover. The cruise was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the Meraviglia was full and we thought that MSC was a quality brand so, any vessel should be good enough. This was our first time and I have to confess that my expectations weren't cover. The cruise was absolutely crowed, it was so hard to find a free table for breakfast or for an early dinner, once we had to sit on the deck to give some food to our child. At dinner, a table for 6 people was occupied with 10 people. I am intolerant to some food and it was too difficult to find right dishes at breakfast or lunch for me(no information about ingredients). In addition, there were some crew members who had an intolerable behavior, waiters who didn't keep right manner when they speak with clients. In the other hand, I want to highlight the exceptional service given by the head waiter who attended us at dinner, Mr. DeLeón. Right now I don't think that I repeat a cruise holiday soon and I am absolutely sure that I will never take a cruise in summer. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2015
The ship itself was gorgeous & kept beautifully. However the variations in levels of service we experienced were just too great for the money paid. We were unfortunate that on our cruise was a group of almost 1000 French accordion ... Read More
The ship itself was gorgeous & kept beautifully. However the variations in levels of service we experienced were just too great for the money paid. We were unfortunate that on our cruise was a group of almost 1000 French accordion aficionados. We were actually told at lunch one day by a waiter that because we were not French our service would not be as good! We were more than a little upset by this so went to the English speaking "point of contact". She took lots of notes & we never heard another thing. We had a tour cancelled which we had previously booked. The reason given was not enough English speakers to warrant the trip. We were led to believe that the ship catered to all languages but alas if you speak English you will not enjoy your cruise! The only great thing about the whole trip was the food. We never had a bad meal. Everything was perfect with the food itself. Again however the service levels were budget to say the least. A quick list of what we experienced: 1. A waiter sneezed into his hand and continued to serve people as he thought no one had seen. 2. Basics of serving, placement etc just not there. Most waiters needed a lot of training. 3. Staff not aware of what order to serve meals in. More than once we received mains before entrée. 4. No idea on basic tea & coffee prep. The saving grace for us were the bars wait staff. All encountered were amazing, knowledgable and very helpful. One even showing a barman how to make a certain cocktail. Again training! The shore excursions were very overpriced and poorly run except for Morocco where it is run by a private company. We were told in one port of a cab strike so we must pay to use specially arranged buses. The line of cabs on arrival was staggering! Organise your own tours or simply jump in a cab. Will work out cheaper in the end! Overall a very disappointing cruise and we will never again sail with or recommend MSC. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Myself and my partner have just returned from 8 night cruise with MSC aboard there ship called the Orchestra. We try get away every second year without the kids and we were looking forward to having a great time. We had cruised before and ... Read More
Myself and my partner have just returned from 8 night cruise with MSC aboard there ship called the Orchestra. We try get away every second year without the kids and we were looking forward to having a great time. We had cruised before and this was a completely different experience for us. We found the ship to be beautifully designed and very well kept and the itinary was very good (west med). However that was as far as the positives went for us. The food was adequate at best and very repetative the same food every day with little variation in the main dining room. the evening dining room had only two options of appetisers, starters, mains and desert's there was also a charge for water 2.42 a litre at dinner and throughout the ship. Alcohol and decent tea and coffee were very expensive for a cruise ship especially when you have to add 15% service charge. The service was not very good at all, no welcome on board and most staff bar the dining staff were in any way friendly. They rarely spoke to us the entire trip only to sell alcohol or some other products. The entertainment on board was very poor with little to do all day on board unless you went to the casino.....the library the books were locked away, the evening entertainment was catered to larger groups of nationalities - Italian, Spanish or German only and they even had certain bars blocked off for certain groups which we were not allowed access too. The whole experience on board was boring and unwelcoming. The age bracket of the majority on the ship was over 45 or under 20 approx and very few between 20 -45 and we are both 30!!! There was only 8 people we meet on the trip that spoke English and all said they felt exactly as we did about the trip. One woman got off in and said it was like getting out of jail....she couldn't wait to go home. last night we were kept awake all night by the staff moving luggage around the corridors or shouting down them to each other it was disgraceful - silent disembarkation my eye!! By the end of the end of the trip we felt so happy to get off the ship - it was a relief to be going home. Overall I would recommend cruising with NCL, Royal Caribbean, Holland American or Fred Olsen instead. I would never recommend MSC to anyone. It was a complete waste of money Read Less
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
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

Find a MSC Orchestra Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise