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31 Barcelona MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date April 2008
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 September 2010
Please read all of the reviews about MSC Orchestra very carefully because for the most part they are true as far as: *Great value for an international cruise *Most patrons on the ship do not speak English as a first language ... Read More
Please read all of the reviews about MSC Orchestra very carefully because for the most part they are true as far as: *Great value for an international cruise *Most patrons on the ship do not speak English as a first language (never found it to be a problem) *You do have to pay for water in the dining room and coffee is not included except in the buffet *Dining options are few-buffet and dining room but we did not find the meals bad-always great pasta options and appetizers. *Entertainment is pretty non-existent *The pool area is very crowded and small I would suggest to go on this cruise if you: *Would like to see beautiful ports that no other cruise line seemed to go to (Malaga, Alicante, Gibraltar, Genoa) *Are not expecting/wanting to spend too much time on the ship *Do not mind being one of the only English speakers (although ALL of the staff spoke very well) *Would like a very budget friendly international cruise (our 8night balcony room cruise cost only $899/person) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We were totally disapointed by the food! All ads we read said that it was a "Typical Italian food", but that was a complete lie: Most of it was made out of powder and water. Breakfast: The coffee was instant coffee. When ... Read More
We were totally disapointed by the food! All ads we read said that it was a "Typical Italian food", but that was a complete lie: Most of it was made out of powder and water. Breakfast: The coffee was instant coffee. When we asked for som kind of expresso, we got a small bag with powder coffee. The omelete did not taste like eggs, and it was also made out of powder. Yes, the bread was fresh, but I am sure it was also powder and water, but it did not matter. Lunch and dinner: Soup, sauces, desserts and some other things were powder and water. I complained on board, and the waiters told me that thir food was even worst, they had to run to the nearest restaurant whenever the could, in order to eat any thin decent (I forgot to tell you that I speak 9 langages and it was not a problem to talk with the Brasilian, Italian or Spanish crew). In the ads, MSC Cruise brag about som kind of partnership with 2-star chef Mauro Uliassi. When we came bach home, I asked him if he really knows what is going on on board, and if he really had any kind of involvement in the food on the ship. He denied totally, the only thing he did was to cook for 100 VIP´s when the MS Orchestra was finished. He got very angry with MAS Cruises using his name this way, and he would follow up my story. I complained about the food quality to the CIO of MSC Cruises in Stockholm, mr Clas Tamm, and he did not deny anything about the food being made out of powder. MSC Cruises also tell people about their help to UNICEF. When I asked mr Clas Tamm if it is possible to see the figures, how much money they give to UNICEF, he answered that it was not possible, because those were regarded as "sale figures". MSC Cruises also charges 7 euros per person and day, in our situation that made over 100 euros, about 150 dollars, in service fees, that go to the crew. I cannot understand why passengers should pay for the crews sallary, it should come out from the ticket price. And do not forget the 15% service fee (VAT?) for every thing you bye on board. Nope, no more MSC for us. Never ever again, not even for free. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
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 October 2011
I read a lot of different reviews for this cruise line and this ship and started to get a little worried before my cruise. This cruise was fantastic! I will say that if you have a bad attitude or can't just go with the flow when you ... Read More
I read a lot of different reviews for this cruise line and this ship and started to get a little worried before my cruise. This cruise was fantastic! I will say that if you have a bad attitude or can't just go with the flow when you are on vacation then you might have a different outlook, but I loved this cruise. Don't go on this cruise and try to compare it to your average American cruise line. This cruise line is Italian owned and Americans are the minority. You will meet many different people and hear many different languages. I found it to be great fun! The food is fantastic! My travel companion and I ate breakfast twice at the sit-down restaurant and 8 mornings at the buffet. Depending on the time you get to the buffet it will be crazy! My friend and I would just find a table and take turns fighting the crowds. I never found it to be horrible, but if you don't like crowds then go to the restaurant. The food is equally delicious at both locations. Lunch is the same with certain peak times being crazy, but if you go a little off peak to the buffet it isn't bad. Dinner is delightful. They have a 6 course menu! The risotto is delicious. I only had a few things that I wouldn't have eaten again, but trying new things is what it's all about! My friend is Vegan and she never had a problem finding good things to eat! I did get the coffee cuddle package because I love coffee drinks and really enjoyed it! We got free bottled water in the restaurant with every meal. The itinerary for this cruise was the main reason that I chose to cruise with MSC. We embarked in Barcelona, Spain while the majority embarked in Genoa, Italy. The embarkation and debarkation were smooth as there were very few of us. We also received our luggage in about 30 minutes from boarding the ship! Our first stop was Marseilles, France. We took a tour to Aix en Provence that was wonderful. Next stop Genoa, Italy. We took the city tour and I wouldn't recommend it. Skip this tour and do the hop on hop off bus. The third stop was Malaga, Spain and we did a city tour with a stop at a café for Churros and Hot Chocolate...yum! The port that I was most excited for was Casablanca, Morocco. My friend and I did the full day tour of Marrakech that was delightful! The day was long, but we saw all kinds of things and had a really nice traditional lunch. The last port of call was Lisbon, Portugal where we did a walking tour and pastry tasting. Great fun! The entertainment on this ship is wonderful ! I don't usually attend the shows, but I only missed one! They were all different and equally enjoyable. The singing was excellent, fantastic dancing, and acrobats! There were a few mishaps, but they were taken care of immediately. The first was that our excursion tickets for Aix en Provence said Espanol. So I asked the excursion desk and they replaced them with English tickets so we were on the correct tour. No big deal. Secondly we had asked to be in the first seating for dinner and we were put in the second. The maître d put us on a waiting list, but we enjoyed our tablemates and were ok with being in the second seating. My friend had a tray of drinks spilled on her during the first Gala evening! They were very apologetic and took her clothes to be cleaned. So, they definitely seemed to always try to make things right! The only thing that was annoying was getting back on the ship at a port. The first couple of ports they only had one security line running. The wait was quite long. They seemed to open more lines as the cruise went on, but this is something they need to work on. They do not give out ship plans and do not have them available so print one out if you need directions. The plans are on the floors at the elevator and then all the major areas are posted on the wall with the floors and directions they are in. This made it easy to find what you were looking for. We were on the Lira deck. Room 10079. We had an interior room that was really nice. Twin beds and a night stand for each bed. There was a make up table with lights and the outlets are both American and European outlets. This is great when you have a lot of things to charge. The bathroom was standard. We weren't too far from the stairs/elevators. We stayed one night pre-cruise and one night post-cruise in Barcelona. We took a taxi to the port the day of our cruise with no problems. The day we disembarked we met a private tour guide without any issue. The ship was a little late coming into port, but we were off and to our tour very quickly. So, overall I found this cruise to be wonderful. I loved the ship, the itinerary was great, and the food was fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The ports of call appealed to me and I have always wanted to see Barcelona which was the embark/disembarkation port. I flew from Australia and it was a simple transit. I decided on the spur of the moment after receiving an email from the ... Read More
The ports of call appealed to me and I have always wanted to see Barcelona which was the embark/disembarkation port. I flew from Australia and it was a simple transit. I decided on the spur of the moment after receiving an email from the company and sailed with in 4 months. Everything went smoothly and the staff were very attentive and friendly, remembered my name and inquired after my well-being when I had not been around for a day or so due to a sore throat. The ship itself is quite opulent and my cabin spacious and kept beautifully clean by my very amiable and good humored cabin steward, I travel solo and he always inquired as to my comfort. The passengers were predominately European and took great delight in my attempts to converse with them using hand signals and smiles. Would I travel again with MSC ? it depends on the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We chose a cruise on the MSC Orchestra after Norwegian Cruise Lines decided to change the dates of the cruise on which we had made a confirmed deposit (without notifying us, I might add). Since we already had flights to Barcelona paid ... Read More
We chose a cruise on the MSC Orchestra after Norwegian Cruise Lines decided to change the dates of the cruise on which we had made a confirmed deposit (without notifying us, I might add). Since we already had flights to Barcelona paid for, we looked for alternatives and found an MSC cruise, out of Barcelona with interesting destinations ( Marseille, Genoa, Malaga, Casablanca and Lisbon) on the MSC Orchestra. Not knowing anything about MSC we researched it on line and found that half the people liked it, and the other half were extremely disappointed with it. The complaints ranged from the lack of adequate pillows on the bed, poor attitude of the crew, and the quality of the food. Since my wife and I are the adventurous types, we decided to take a chance and reserved the trip. As it happens, the cruise actually “starts” in Genoa, but they allow people to embark and disembark at the other ports, at least the European stops. Our initial reaction was that either someone at the home office had been reading the online posts, or we were on the wrong ship . The boarding process in Barcelona was quick and efficient. Our room was ready for us and our luggage was delivered quickly ( probably due to the fact that there were not too many people boarding in Barcelona). Having packed a pillow for each of us, thanks to the online reports, we were surprised to find 4 large pillows on the bed for us. Our cabin attendant, Mark, made a point of meeting us and welcoming us on board. He, as well as all of the other crew members we had contact with were extremely pleasant and helpful. Then there’s the food. My daughter, who cruised on MSC in the Caribbean described the food as “beige”, and I have to agree with her. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really good. The ship only has one specialty restaurant, serving Asian food, which was really good, but a 2nd specialty restaurant would be an improvement. We had a couple of problems on the trip. One was finding a dinner table at the first seating. Out of about 2500 guests on board, there were on 89 people who listed English as their main language. The head waiter, Alphonso, couldn’t find an English speaking table with room for us and went out of his way to accommodate us, arranging for a table for 2, for my wife and I. Like most cruisers, we reserved excursions for the ports we visited, but 2 of them were canceled for lack of participation. We went on alternative excursions, but these were not the ones we wanted. The excursion from Casablanca to Marrakesh was long, with a 3 ½ hour bus trip each way, and a lot of walking through the Souk, but disappointing as we only had a 30 minute window to go shopping in the main square, which was not nearly enough time. All in all, I would have to give the cruise a 3 out of 5. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date November 2015
We normally go with NCL and the cruise we were planning to do on the Norwegian Epic was full and our travel agent suggested giving MSC a go. We were very apprehensive about this due to reviews we have seen about food etc. However, it was ... Read More
We normally go with NCL and the cruise we were planning to do on the Norwegian Epic was full and our travel agent suggested giving MSC a go. We were very apprehensive about this due to reviews we have seen about food etc. However, it was one of the best cruise holidays we have had. Embarkation was brilliant. Our flight was extremely early and the ship was not in port when we got there in our taxi from the airport. The porters were so helpful took our luggage away and told us to come back after 1 pm when the ship docked. When we came back to the ship we were given priority boarding because of our early arrival. Our ship card was waiting for us in the cabin and we changed our first sitting to second sitting dining with no problem at all. Within in 20 minutes of getting in the cabin our luggage arrived. Food on board was superb although we avoided the Pizza buffet as it was always crowded and busy. This is the case on all ships we have found. The restaurant waiters and food was excellent. We were on the all inclusive drinks package and were amazed that bottled water and speciality coffees were included. Not the case on many other ships we have been on!!! Entertainment was very laid back and we did not see any shows although the theatre was amazing. We did not do any shore excursions. What was absolutely noticeable in a good way was that there was not constant tannoy announcements from cruise directors letting you know about entertainment etc. We did not do any shore excursions we preferred to do our own thing. Every member of staff treated us with courtesy and they were always more than helpful. Disembarking the ship and collecting our luggage was the most organised I have ever seen. Marvellous. I would highly recommend MSC and will most definitely cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This is my first cruise and i really loved it. We embarked at Barcelona and it was very easy and no hiccups, arrived on board at noon and rooms were ready at 1.30pm. Our room was 8012 no balcony but a large porthole view. Room was a ... Read More
This is my first cruise and i really loved it. We embarked at Barcelona and it was very easy and no hiccups, arrived on board at noon and rooms were ready at 1.30pm. Our room was 8012 no balcony but a large porthole view. Room was a reasonable size and very clean and a nice bathroom, and a bar fridge, fresh towels every day also. Ship was about 3/4 full so not too crowded and we could always get a chair or sun lounge next to pool. We had the first seating for dinner and our meals were always lovely, not huge portions but you could always ask for more, and there was 3 courses and a selection of hot rolls. The buffet was great at breakfast and lunch with many things to pick from, however we quite often went to the dining room for lunch as it was more relaxed and not as noisy. Loads of entertainment during the day and a show every night. A new port every morning and i booked excursions and was not disappointed, tickets arrived in my cabin every evening with the time and location i had to be next morning. very professionally carried out. Only thing i thought was a bit expensive was the photos taken on board 25 Euros for one pic was a bit much in my opinion. We took the 26Euro a day drink package and found it to work out really good value as you could have almost anything you wanted. I was worried about being sea sick but there was hardly a ripple around the Mediterrian. I would love to go again and next time do the Greek islands. We had nothing to complain about loved it all and the staff were fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I have got a very good information about MSC trips from Italian friends as we are leaving in Slovenia, we, my friends and us, decided to join this cruise for celebrating the 60th anniversary for my husband and our friend . We were ... Read More
I have got a very good information about MSC trips from Italian friends as we are leaving in Slovenia, we, my friends and us, decided to join this cruise for celebrating the 60th anniversary for my husband and our friend . We were enjoying our trip together and we were all exited. Unfortunately, our friends found their theft on 3rd day from inside the cabin and could not find their money. For us we found the theft of our camera and wallet upon arriving home taking into consideration that our home keys and cupboards were inside the wallet (Belle red wallet) - This happened when we put our bags and handbags (myself and husband) outside the cabin the night before we left, following cruise instructions . I have already sent my complain to my travel agency in Cairo and didn't get any feedback. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth , Dining service staff were very friendly, accurate and perfect. Overall comment, I am warning everyone about their money and their stuff during any trip on MSC cruises . Read Less
Sail Date June 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
Sail Date July 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 August 2017
with over 100 cruises under my belt and a good knowledge of what should be a good standard of service my family and I returned this week from a week on MSC Orchestra. We booked a balcony cabin with full drinks package, and yes, we have ... Read More
with over 100 cruises under my belt and a good knowledge of what should be a good standard of service my family and I returned this week from a week on MSC Orchestra. We booked a balcony cabin with full drinks package, and yes, we have cruised MSC before Good points 1.spotless ship from end to end 2buffet food service and quality best I have ever seen 3.wine choice very good with a selection of premium wines included not just the gut rot-- bat staff excellent 4.cabin services great with space and again spotless Bad points 5.from the moment we arrived at embarkation the welcome was zero-- no one smiles and the security staff are positively rude to everyone. 6.language problems are common but worst in dining rooms 7.in dining rooms quality was not a problem but food service when you could get it was at best slow but potion sizes are worst I have ever seen--one night a handful of salad i.e. green with 3 grapefruit segments was all we were offered and ask for more took 45 minutes -- more than once a post dinner visit to the buffet was needed-- and it’s not that I am greedy my wife who eats like a bird was also leaving dinner still hungry 8. don’t bother to complain--guest services on pre- departure day one was asked for a service and I had to WRITE a letter to Head of Customer Service to get it sorted and then instead of apology he rand to lecture me on MSC Company policy. 9.I find that staff work a minimum of 11 per day 7 days per week may for up to 8 months-- no wonder they never smile Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We were looking forward to the cruise, however as passengers on this ship we rarely existed to the crew, for example, we had to always go to deck 5 to find someone to find answers regarding anything. The problem was that so did all the ... Read More
We were looking forward to the cruise, however as passengers on this ship we rarely existed to the crew, for example, we had to always go to deck 5 to find someone to find answers regarding anything. The problem was that so did all the other passengers, so, you had to waste time in the que,on 4 occasions the person I spoke to was not very polite, and when I requested to see her superior I was told they were to busy. on other cruises we have been on the staff were available around the ship and you just had to ask your question. The most annoying part of this cruise was that it was very difficult to find HOT food, even in the restaurant we had to send food back to be re-heated or cooked better. The cabin was fine however you had no contact with the young man looking after your cabin, you had to contact deck 5. Read Less
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
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
Sail Date October 2017
We took this cruise as part of a family vacation. It ended up being a nightmare experience. Less than 24 hours before we departed, MSC notified us that we would not be departing in Genoa, Italy. They gave us no additional information ... Read More
We took this cruise as part of a family vacation. It ended up being a nightmare experience. Less than 24 hours before we departed, MSC notified us that we would not be departing in Genoa, Italy. They gave us no additional information about when to show up or what their plan was to get us to Marseilles. We found out later that MSC knew that there was a problem with the engines 6 weeks before the cruise. They informed us of the plan only on the day of departure. We received a call from our travel agent, who said she got an email in the middle of the night telling us to arrive no later than 10am at Genoa port of call. It was already 9am at this point in Italy. We rushed to the departure point and it was chaos. No food, no water at check in. We were told that we would take a bus for 4 hours to Nice, France and then another 4 hour bus to Marseilles. In reality, these bus rides took closer to 7 hours for each leg, as the bus drivers took us on very long, not direct routes and picked up strangers not affiliated with the cruise along the way. The hotel that they put us in Nice was maybe a 2 star hotel, there was mold and stains all over the carpet. We arrived in Nice so late that nothing was open. They gave us less than $50USD to feed our family for the 2 days. During our bus trip, they would not stop to let us use the bathroom or provide food or water. 2017 was a year of terrorist attacks in almost every port of call on this ship, and they still picked up random non-cruise affiliated strangers, who sat in stairwells on packed buses. Everyone on the bus was terrified. We eventually made it to Marseilles, and boarded the ship, only after experiencing a 4 hour long check in because all the buses showed up at the same time. Again, there was no food or water during this check in. As a result, we missed 2 days on the cruise, it was too late to go to Marseilles since check in took a long time. We also missed the day in Genoa. Since the cruise ship's engine wasn't working, we also missed 2 other ports of call in Greece, and we ended up going to unexpected ports, where MSC raised the prices of excursions so high that it was eye watering. The new ports of call were not interesting and if they were on the original itinerary, I would not have taken this cruise. Food and beverage wise, we paid for the Aurea package, it was so limited on the booze selection that it would have been more affordable to just drink on shore. The selection was laughable. The wine was terrible, a feat in the Mediterranean. The food was lack luster, half the time it was stale or cold. The accommodations are fine, but not extraordinary.The bathrooms in the rooms were a nice size.The cruise lounge areas are tacky and outdated. The service staff were either very nice or terribly rude, one never knew what we were getting into that day. The entertainment was unimpressive, short of this one couple who were quite good dancers. The gym is so small. Everyone had to wait for the equipment.The hot tub was tiny and gross from lack of cleaning. The steamrooms were dated. At the end, they agreed to reimburse my parents for the service tip, and then the day of, they told hundreds of people, including my parents, that they couldn't refund this money to them as they were departing. What a bait and switch! My parents were hoping to use this money to tip the nice servers more. MSC also refused to reimburse us for our 2 missed ports of call on the ship. Our travel agent is now refusing to ever book anyone on an MSC cruise again. She's spent hours trying to get us reimbursed for the ports of call that were missed. Please, don't take MSC. I'd hate to have someone else's once in a lifetime vacation get ruined! There are great cruiselines in the Med, this company is not one of them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
MSC Orchestra November 27 to December 9 2017, Mediterranean Cruise Included Morocco and Funchal Stateroom 12102 Aurea Balcony This was our first cruise with MSC Cruise Lines, we have previously sailed with Holland America ... Read More
MSC Orchestra November 27 to December 9 2017, Mediterranean Cruise Included Morocco and Funchal Stateroom 12102 Aurea Balcony This was our first cruise with MSC Cruise Lines, we have previously sailed with Holland America Line seven times. We didn’t have a good last cruise with HAL so decided to take a break from cruising until we saw this deal from MSC. Firstly they offered a loyalty points matching program so we were able to have our HAL three star mariner level gives us Gold level on MSC, so we are comparing our HAL experience with MSC. We took the Aurea level of cruise experience in a balcony stateroom, mainly because it included a drinks package and some massage treatments all for substantially less than Holland America. Bottom line if you don’t want to read a long review we really enjoyed this cruise, the ports of call were great and we didn’t feel that we were on an inferior ship. The value we received was far beyond our HAL experience. We boarded in Barcelona and the ship was late, we arrived at the cruise terminal in time for an early boarding but there was no sign of the Orchestra. There were no MSC staff to tell us what was happening and no emails from MSC. The ship did arrive and we did get priority boarding because of the Aurea level of tickets we bought. Boarding was quicker and easier than HAL way more casual and enjoyable. Our gold room key cards were on our bed in the stateroom which was unlocked the door on the latch. Everything was laid out on the bed all information we needed. The room decor is modern and stylish better than what we were used to, our bathroom was shower only no tub. The balcony was cleaner and freshly painted, no visible rust, handrails were clean, something HAL is not always doing. Our first visit to the buffet was good and what we expected, nice to flash your key card for free drinks. The buffet food for lunch is good but for dinner is terrible in fact nothing like HAL, you could not have a pleasurable dinner by using the dinner buffet all through your cruise. Lunchtime was good and had ethnic choices as well as everything else you would expect. North Americans get free bottled water at lunch and dinner even without a drinks package. Aurea package also includes My Style Dining, this gives a reserved area in the main dining room just for Aurea passengers. This means you can show up at anytime during dinner service. Our experience was that the person assigning tables for Aurea turned our My Style into assigned seating, which after a few nights led to us being rushed out of the restaurant because another couple wanted our table. They brought our first and main course together, dining on a cruise ship in the evening is our entertainment and the restaurant manager ruined this for us. Instead of telling the other couple that My Style is a different concept he caved to their pressure and we suffered because of that. I will admit to having a meltdown and getting angry and making my point. This did sour our main dining room experience. Food choices are not as good as HAL, the main dining room sells the lobsters or T-Bone steaks for 22 euros each, gala nights do not get surf and turf. The food choices they do have is good cooked well and enjoyable. We are vegetarians and MSC went out of their way to please us and cook items that were not on the menu. This was far better than HAL who did not seem to have the special cooks who were skillful and able to cook the vegetarian menu, this led us to stop sailing with HAL. The MSC Orchestra has only one speciality restaurant an Asian restaurant, offering sushi and some Thai options. If you buy a dining package before boarding you get a discount and are tied to a set menu. They did make all our options vegetarian instead of chicken and fish. The Pad Thai is not Pad Thai, they do what Holland America does use vermicelli noodles and no peanut sauce. Do yourself a favour and save your money by not using this restaurant. Our fellow passengers were Italians, Spanish, French and Germans. The Italian neighbours to our balcony were smokers and ignored the do not smoke on balconies signs. We did complain as the cigarette smoke was overwhelming, the first complaint I believe MSC did nothing because of customer relations, so I complained a second time which was three days into our cruise and this time it worked, having said that there were balcony smokers in three or four other cabins around us that didn’t impact us as much. Rules didn’t seem respected as on HAL. For the money we paid and the services we received MSC delivered well beyond what we were used to from Holland America and I could see us sailing with MSC more in the future. If you are a native English speaker you will be in the minority on MSC European cruises, if you can cope with this then we would recommend MSC as an option to consider, especially if you have loyalty points from another cruise line. Stateroom 12102 is under the outdoor bar in the mid ships area, it’s balcony and a very spacious room having an inter connecting door we worried about noise from the adjoining cabin but heard nothing, the room is very quite apart from 3.00 to 3.30 am the staff line up the table and chairs dragging them on the deck which is very noisy, but there must be a different shift at 6.00 am as they start rearranging the furniture again. Seems a shame they do this as these are premium cabins. We didn’t get our spa in room scented diffuser as they were out of them, these are part of the Aurea experience, after asking where it was we were given an MSC branded backpack and two insulated coffee travel mugs. We had the choice of two rooms as we booked late, both were mid ships ours had the adjoining door but the other had a drop down extra bed mounted above the sofa and the while being a head bashing hazard when getting up from sitting on the sofa, it also makes the room seem smaller. On this itinerary leaving Barcelona and doing a circuit of the Mediterranean this 12102 on the right hand side of the ship was great as you get the sunrise and sun most of the day which makes the room warmer and brighter. Most ports we entered we had great views, so recommend this side of the ship. We read negative reviews of this ship and cruise line and to be honest they are not warranted, yes the difference between nationalities and culture can seem unfriendly but why do you travel abroad if not to encounter different peoples. Lastly buying the Aurea package gives you the standard drinks package but because you bought it before boarding as part of your ticket there are no service fees added to you bar bills, so you save 15% service fee on every order. I would do another MSC cruise I think they are giving greater value for your dollar than Holland America Line and seem keen to serve North American passengers. Four out of five stars from us. Read Less
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
Sail Date November 2017
This cruise ship was clean and tidy but the cruise was a disaster hoping to have a lovely Xmas cruise we were very very disappointed .The food was disgusting most of the time it was served after a long wait more often than not it was COLD ... Read More
This cruise ship was clean and tidy but the cruise was a disaster hoping to have a lovely Xmas cruise we were very very disappointed .The food was disgusting most of the time it was served after a long wait more often than not it was COLD and undercooked . The service was pathetic very slow sometimes waiting for up to 45 minutes between courses . The cabin was good and always clean and tidy . The cabin steward was always pleasant and helpful . Entertainment was good and a good choice of entertainment . Reception ok staff helpful and efficient . We missed a couple of ports due to adverse weather conditions and were given a refund of €50 each but were not informed that we had to spend it on board till we were disembarking so lost that . After disembarking we discovered our suitcase had been damaged I would only travel again on MSC when HELL FREEZES OVER . I strongly advise you not to travel with this company . Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 3.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 2.8
Service 3.0 3.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.3
Rates 4.0 3.9

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